Tools and Insights for the Epidemiology of Cognitive Aging and Dementia

Jennifer Weuve, Rush University Medical Center

Over the past few decades, epidemiologists and their colleagues have contributed critical insights to understanding the exploding epidemic of cognitive decline and dementia in the population.  Those contributions have been as fundamental as defining Alzheimer’s dementia and estimating how many people have it.  The methods of dementia epidemiology largely emanate from the methods of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, but dementia offers its own special brand of complications.  In response, epidemiologists have developed and honed methods for evaluating and correcting biases from measurement error, differential selection and confounding that influence effect estimates in dementia research.

The papers below represent a mixture of seminal works (Evans et al, 1989; Glymour et al, 2005; Schneider et al, 2007) along with newer ones that inspire and provoke by: applying innovative methods to old problems (e.g., Nguyen et al, 2016); confronting the usefulness of big data for identifying dementia cases (Taylor et al, 2009); and addressing emerging concerns, such as selective participation in brain imaging studies (Ganguli et al, 2015).  The last paper summarizes the methodologic challenges in the field and provides guidelines for transparently reporting on potential biases in individual studies.

Leave a Reply