Association between surgery with anesthesia and cognitive decline in older adults: Analysis using shared parameter models for informative dropout

Katrina L. Devick, Juraj Sprung, Michelle Mielke, Ronald C. Petersen, Phillip J. Schulte

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives/Goals: The association between surgery with general anesthesia (exposure) and cognition (outcome) among older adults has been studied with mixed conclusions. We revisited a recent analysis to provide missing data education and discuss implications of biostatistical methodology for informative dropout following dementia diagnosis. Methods/study population: We used data from the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, a longitudinal study of prevalence, incidence, and risk factors for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia. We fit linear mixed effects models (LMMs) to assess the association between anesthesia exposure and subsequent trajectories of cognitive z-scores assuming data missing at random, hypothesizing that exposure is associated with greater decline in cognitive function. Additionally, we used shared parameter models for informative dropout assuming data missing not at random. Results: A total of 1948 non-demented participants were included. Median age was 79 years, 49% were female, and 16% had MCI at enrollment. Among median follow-up of 4 study visits over 6.6 years, 172 subjects developed dementia, 270 died, and 594 participants underwent anesthesia. In LMMs, exposure to anesthesia was associated with decline in cognitive function over time (change in annual cognitive z-score slope = −0.063, 95% CI: (−0.080, −0.046), p < 0.001). Accounting for informative dropout using shared parameter models, exposure was associated with greater cognitive decline (change in annual slope = −0.081, 95% CI: (−0.137, −0.026), p = 0.004). Discussion: We revisited prior work by our group with a focus on informative dropout. Although the conclusions are similar, we demonstrated the potential impact of novel biostatistics methodology in longitudinal clinical research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere27
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Missing not at random (MNAR)
  • cognitive z-scores
  • general anesthesia
  • informative dropout
  • older adults
  • shared parameter models
  • surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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