Date of Conferral


Date of Award

February 2024




Public Health


Dr. Clarence Schumaker


The increasing number of dementia cases in the United States, particularly among women, is a significant concern. This progressively deteriorating cognitive disease may profoundly affect talking, decision-making, and problem-solving abilities, interfere with their daily lives, and decrease their life expectancy. Although education, occupation, and healthcare access are individually associated with positive health outcomes, it was essential to explore whether their combination impacts self-reporting memory loss, an indicator of dementia. The purpose of this study was to determine the role of education, occupation, and access to health care as predictors of dementia among women in the United States. This study used Krieger’s ecosocial theory of disease distribution, which branches off the social-ecological model and presents the many factors affecting health. This cross-sectional, quantitative study used secondary data from females participating in the 2018 Health and Retirement Study data set. Pearson’s chi square tests of independence, crosstabulations and a multiple linear regression analysis were used to identify relationships between education, occupation, access to health care, as predictors of self-reported memory rating as a measure of dementia symptoms. Results of the multiple linear regression analysis show that age, Hispanic/Latino origin, non-Hispanic Black ethnicity, job status, affordability, and education predict self-reported memory ratings; type of place of care was not associated with memory ratings. Implications for positive social change include raising awareness of the impact of these variables on dementia and promote policy changes to improve women’s lives through equal access to education, occupation, and health care.

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