Principal Investigator: Dr Ivy Shiue
Department: Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Research Centre
Institution: University of EdinburghTags: 14167, aetiology, cognition, elderly, epidemiology, housing
1a: There is a growing interest in how the built environment, including our own homes, affects our health and wellbeing. A number of previous studies have investigated how housing characteristics (i.e tenure, space, ventilation…) are associated with health outcomes, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Housing characteristics might also be associated with cognitive function (our thinking and memory skills), but this has not been widely studied. This proposal will examine the association between housing conditions and cognitive function in adults in a population-based setting. We will access to data specifically on demographics, housing conditions, and cognitive function from UK Biobank.
1b: UK Biobank’s aim is to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses. In this proposal, the principal outcome is cognitive function. With age, cognitive functions show characteristic declines. These declines are not the same for every individual. Researchers are seeking to identify factors that might account for how well someone is able to maintain their cognitive function with age, and aspects of the built environment (including housing characteristics) are worthy candidates. If housing characteristics are protective or detrimental to cognitive health, elimination of poor housing conditions would be one pathway for the potential improvement in mental health outcomes.
1c: UK Biobank comprises detailed information from ~500,000 individuals. Cognitive function was measured by a number of tests and housing characteristics were obtained by household interview. We will examine how housing characteristics are associated with better or worse cognitive function. These analyses will be cross-sectional. Importantly, we will be able to consider demographic variables including deprivation and social class to ensure that the housing characteristics of interest are not simply surrogates of these. If baseline associations exist in this large sample, it will provide support for follow-ups to examine how housing conditions are associated with later cognitive changes.
1d: The full cohort at baseline with available data on demographics, housing conditions, and cognitive function would be requested for statistical analysis. On successful completion of the current proposal and when available, we would request the same data at the follow-up.
There has been a growing interest in how the built environment, including our own homes, affects our health and wellbeing. A number of previous studies have investigated how housing characteristics (i.e tenure, space, ventilation, dampness, and etc.) are associated with health outcomes, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Housing characteristics might also be associated with cognitive function, but this has not been widely studied.
Cohort studies from Germany and USA have reported associations between dampness, housing status (i.e. homeless or not) and neuropsychological development in children [1,2], for example. Furthermore, several animal studies haveAnalysing data from the fourth wave of the Healthy Old People in Edinburgh (HOPE study) , Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score was one point lower on average in those whose homes had more condensation (n=196, p=0.042) after adjusting for age and pre-morbid IQ. The effect of a home not being warm also showed a statistical trend in the direction of colder homes being associated with lower MMSE scores. Several animal studies have also observed an interaction of genotype and environment (in this case housing conditions), on cognitive behaviour in rodent models of schizophrenia  or Alzheimer’s disease .
In addition, it has been observed that relocation could have affected mental health in adults aged 60 and over , albeit with a modest sample size. A constricted life space has also been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, and cognitive decline among older persons . Research about how housing characteristics might be associated with cognitive health are, however, scarce.
This proposal will therefore examine the associations cross-sectionally and longitudinally between housing conditions and cognitive function in adults in a population-based setting with large human sample. To be specific, we primarily aim to firstly study the associations between housing conditions and cognitive function in adults (sample size close to 200,000) cross-sectionally at the baseline (2006-2010) and then to study whether and how lifestyle (i.e. sleep, smoking, alcohol, physical activity, and vitamins levels) could mediate the associations, if at all. Secondly, we aim to study the associations between housing conditions and changes of cognitive function in adults (sample size around 20,000) at 5-year follow-up (2011-2012). Thirdly, we would aim to study again the associations between housing conditions and changes of cognitive function in adults (sample size around 320,000) at 8-9-year follow-up (2015). Here, we request to access to data specifically on demographics, housing conditions, lifestyle and cognitive function from the UK Biobank to explore the relationship both cross-sectionally and longitudinally.