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Social networks may decrease the risk of genes on dementia among older adults?

Conference contribution
Authors Jing Wu
Björn Halleröd
Published in The paper was orally presented at the conference "18TH EPA SECTION MEETING IN EPIDEMIOLOGY & SOCIAL PSYCHIATRY: Social Psychiatry and Epidemiology in a changing world", 30th November – 3rd December 2016, Gothenburg, Sweden
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Language en
Keywords social networks, genes, dementia, older adults
Subject categories Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology), Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences, Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


Objectives: Emerging evidence suggests that social networks may provide a protective mechanism against the development of dementia among older adults. In this paper the relationship between social networks and the onset of dementia is studied. Special attention is given to the potential interaction effect between genetic factors, in this case the presence of APOE ε4 allele, and the strength of social networks. Two hypotheses are tested. First, a weak social network is associated with an increased risk of dementia. Second, the association between a weak social network and dementia is particularly strong among carriers of the APOE ε4 allele. Methods: The analyses build on population based longitudinal data Gothenburg, Sweden - the H70 Birth Cohort Study. At baseline (2000-01), 923 individuals without dementia underwent semi-structured neuropsychiatric examinations. Factor analysis was utilized to categorize social networks variables. Binary logistic regression models were used to examine the effects of APOE ε4 allele, social networks, and their interaction on dementia. Results and Conclusions: Our preliminary results showed an association between APOE ε4 allele and the risk of developing dementia. We initially observed an interaction between social networks and APOE ε4 allele. The preliminary conclusions can be made that genetic factors (APOE ε4 allele) and social networks are interactively related to dementia risk and that social networks might decrease the risk of genes (APOE ε4 allele) on dementia among older adults.

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