Cognitive function and its association with level of education and work status in adults in Saudi Arabia: a cross-sectional study

Mohammed Alarabi, Abdullah Al-Turki, Mohammed Mahasin, Abdulrahman Al-Sehly, Faisal Al-Dawood, Saleh Al-Kurini, Shahid Bashir


Background: Cognitive decline is not inevitable with age; studies have shown that it can be affected by a number of education and work related factors. We explored this association by carrying out a cross-sectional study in King Khalid University Hospital and King Abdulaziz University Hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Methods: We enrolled 202 adults, whose ages ranged between 40 and 85 years. Data was collected using a validated Arabic translation of a standardized test assessing cognitive function, known as the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). Subjects were also inquired about their level of education and work status.

Results: The results showed that in our subjects of adults above the age of 40, the mean MMSE score was 23.45 (SD=4.203). Females (n=94) had lower scores than their male counterparts (n=108) (mean difference: 3.11, 95% CI 2 to 4.22; p<0.001). There was a strong negative correlation between Age and MMSE scores (r=-0.308; p<0.001). Higher levels of education were associated with higher MMSE scores (p<0.001). Having no education was associated with a major decline in scores compared to a college education (mean difference: 8.16, 95% CI 6.76 to 9.56; p<0.001). Being employed was associated with higher scores (p<0.001). This was irrespective of gender, although females were more likely to have had no education or work (p<0.001).

Conclusions: Higher levels of education and employment both seem to be associated with higher cognitive function scores in the studied demographic. Further research is required for population generalization and to establish a causal relationship.



Cognitive function, Mini mental state examination, Education

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