Sex Differences in Subjective Cognitive Decline: Findings from BRFSS (2015–2018) | Categories Data Blitz

Closed captioning provided

Title: Sex Differences in Subjective Cognitive Decline: Findings from BRFSS (2015–2018)
Presenter: Karen Schliep, PhD, MSPH; University of Utah, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine
Contributors: Lily Gu, University of Utah; Fares Qeadan, PhD, University of Utah
Date: 5/14/20
Brief Description: Studying potential risk factors of subjective cognitive decline with a focus on sex differences
Keywords/Main Subjects: Subjective cognitive decline (SCD), sex differences, dementia
Copyright: copyright Karen Schliep ©2020



Prior research has indicated that at least 35% of dementia risk is amenable to prevention, but whether risk differs between men and women has not been fully explored. Our objective was to estimate the population attributable fraction (PAF) of potentially modifiable risk factors for subjective cognitive decline (SCD), with a focus on sex differences.


Data were from respondents (45 years and older) who completed the BRFSS Cognitive Decline Module (2015–2018). SCD was assessed as answering yes to “experiencing confusion or memory loss that is happening more often or is getting worse in the last 12 months”. We calculated PAFs, stratified by sex, of nine known modifiable risk factors, accounting for the complex survey design.


The final study sample (N=216,838) included slightly more females (F) (53.7%) than males (M) (46.3%), but with similar reporting for SCD: F: 10.6%; M: 10.9%. Women, however, had lower overall PAF to explain SCD (49%) compared to men (55%), with slight differences in the PAFs for individual risk factors: limited education (F: 0.9%; M: 1.3%), deafness (F: 3.9%; M: 6.9%), social isolation (F: 2.3%; M: 3.7%); depression (F: 15.1%; M: 13.9%); smoking (F: 3.9%; M: 3.6%); physical inactivity (F: 7.1%; M: 7.7%); obesity (F: 4.0%; M: 2.1%); hypertension (F: 7.9%; M: 11.2%); and diabetes (F: 3.8%; M: 4.4%).


We found nearly 50% of SCD may be amenable to prevention. Prevalence of SCD is similar between men and women, but there are slight differences in risk factors, notably deafness, obesity, and hypertension.

Karen Schliep, PhD

Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, Division of Public Health, University of Utah