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Approved research

Examining associations between the built environment and cognitive function in adults

Principal Investigator: Dr Ivy Shiue
Approved Research ID: 14167
Approval date: May 29th 2015

Lay summary

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. 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. 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. 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.