Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Epidemiology and Population Health

Degree Program

Epidemiology, MSE

Committee Chair

Taylor, Kira C.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Muldoon, Susan

Committee Member

Muldoon, Susan

Committee Member

Myers, Steven

Author's Keywords

cognitive decline; polypharmacy; elderly population


Polypharmacy; Older people--Drug use; Older people--Mental health


Aging is associated with increased risk of chronic disease, comorbidities, and greater medication use. Polypharmacy, the concomitant use of 5 or more medications, has been associated with adverse health effects, and potentially cognitive decline. The proposed hypothesis is that polypharmacy increases the risk of cognitive decline in elderly people. Using longitudinal data from 572 participants from the New Mexico Aging Process Study cohort, the impact of polypharmacy on the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores and Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) was studied. The statistical analyses were performed using mixed linear regression multivariable models and generalized estimating equations, adjusting for important covariates. Polypharmacy was associated with a 0.11±0.09 decrease in MMSE scores (p-value=0.23) and an increased risk of MCI (odds ratio=1.95, 95% CI 0.40-9.43). The results suggest that polypharmacy may increase the rate of cognitive decline in elderly people. Larger studies in other populations are needed to support this hypothesis.

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