Medical Doctors and Dementia: A Longitudinal Study

Maria Vassilaki, Jeremy A. Syrjanen, Walter K. Kremers, Philip T. Hagen, David S. Knopman, Michelle M. Mielke, Yonas E. Geda, Rabe E. Alhurani, Mary M. Machulda, Rosebud O. Roberts, Ronald C. Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To examine the association between being a medical doctor (MD) and the risk of incident dementia. DESIGN: Cohort study. SETTING: Olmsted County, Minnesota. PARTICIPANTS: A total of 3460 participants (including 104 MDs), aged 70 years or older, of the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. MEASUREMENTS: Participants were randomly selected from the community and had comprehensive cognitive evaluations at baseline and approximately every 15 months to assess for diagnosis of dementia. For participants who withdrew from the follow-up, dementia diagnosis was also assessed using information available in their medical record. The associations were examined using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusting for sex, education, and apolipoprotein E ε4, using age as the time scale. RESULTS: MDs were older (vs “general population”), and most were males (93.3%). MDs without dementia at baseline did not have a significantly different risk for incident dementia (hazard ratio = 1.12; 95% confidence interval = 0.69-1.82; P =.64) compared to the general population. CONCLUSIONS: Although the study includes a small number of older, mainly male, MDs, it provides a preliminary insight on cognitive health later in life in MDs, while most previous studies examine the health of younger MDs. Larger longitudinal studies are needed to examine these associations and investigate if associations are modified by sex. J Am Geriatr Soc 68:1250–1255, 2020.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1250-1255
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • cohort study
  • dementia
  • medical doctors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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