The impact of residential status on cognitive decline among older adults in China: Results from a longitudinal study

Hanzhang Xu, Matthew E. Dupre, Danan Gu, Bei Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Residential status has been linked to numerous determinants of health and well-being. However, the influence of residential status on cognitive decline remains unclear. The purpose of this research was to assess the changes of cognitive function among older adults with different residential status (urban residents, rural-to-urban residents, rural residents, and urban-to-rural residents), over a 12-year period. Methods: We used five waves of data (2002, 2005, 2008/2009, 2011/2012, and 2014) from the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey with 17,333 older adults age 65 and over who were interviewed up to five times. Cognitive function was measured by the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). Multilevel models were used regarding the effects of residential status after adjusting for demographic characteristics, socioeconomic factors, family support, health behaviors, and health status. Results: After controlling for covariates, significant differences in cognitive function were found across the four groups: rural-to-urban and rural residents had a higher level of cognition than urban residents at baseline. On average, cognitive function decreased over the course of the study period. Rural-to-urban and rural residents demonstrated a faster decline in cognitive function than urban residents. Conclusions: This study suggests that residential status has an impact on the rate of changes in cognition among older adults in China. Results from this study provide directions for future research that addresses health disparities, particularly in countries that are undergoing significant socioeconomic transitions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 15 2017


  • China
  • Cognitive decline
  • Older adults
  • Residential status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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