UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The independent contribution of executive functions to health related quality of life in older women Davis, Jennifer C; Marra, Carlo A; Najafzadeh, Mehdi; Liu-Ambrose, Teresa

Abstract

Background: Cognition is a multidimensional construct and to our knowledge, no previous studies have examined the independent contribution of specific domains of cognition to health related quality of life. To determine whether executive functions are independently associated with health related quality of life assessed using Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) calculated from the EuroQol EQ-5D (EQ-5D) in older women after adjusting for known covariates, including global cognition. Therefore, we conducted a secondary analysis of community-dwelling older women aged 65-75 years who participated in a 12-month randomized controlled trial of resistance training. We assessed global cognition using the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) and executive functions using the: 1) Stroop Test; 2) Trail Making Test (Part B) and 3) Digits Verbal Span Backwards Test. We calculated QALYs from the EQ-5D administered at baseline, 6 months and 12 months. Results Our multivariate linear regression model demonstrated the specific executive processes of set shifting and working memory, as measured by Trail Making Test (Part B) and Digits Verbal Span Backward Test (p < 0.01) respectively, were independently associated with QALYs after accounting for age, comorbidities, general mobility, and global cognition. The final model explained 50% of the variation in QALYs. Conclusions Our study highlights the specific executive processes of set shifting and working memory were independently associated with QALYs -- a measure of health related quality of life. Given that executive functions explain variability in QALYs, clinicians may need to consider assessing executive functions when measuring health related quality of life. Further, the EQ-5D may be used to track changes in health status over time and serve as a screening tool for clinicians. Trial Registration ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT00426881.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)