Study protocol for a longitudinal observational study of disparities in sleep and cognition in older adults: the DISCO study

Kristen L. Knutson*, Mandy L. Pershing, Sabra Abbott, Shaina J. Alexandria, Sindhu Chiluka, Diana Chirinos, Aida Giachello, Niket Gupta, Katharine Harrington, Sarah S. Rittner, Farzaneh Sorond, Mandy Wong, Thanh Huyen T. Vu, Phyllis C. Zee, Mercedes R. Carnethon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Cognitive dysfunction, a leading cause of mortality and morbidity in the USA and globally, has been shown to disproportionately affect the socioeconomically disadvantaged and those who identify as black or Hispanic/ Latinx. Poor sleep is strongly associated with the development of vascular and metabolic diseases, which correlate with cognitive dysfunction. Therefore, sleep may contribute to observed disparities in cognitive disorders. The Epidemiologic Study of Disparities in Sleep and Cognition in Older Adults (DISCO) is a longitudinal, observational cohort study that focuses on gathering data to better understand racial/ethnic sleep disparities and illuminate the relationship among sleep, race and ethnicity and changes in cognitive function. This investigation may help inform targeted interventions to minimise disparities in cognitive health among ageing adults. Methods and analysis The DISCO study will examine up to 495 individuals aged 55 and older at two time points over 24 months. An equal number of black, white and Hispanic/ Latinx individuals will be recruited using methods aimed for adults traditionally under-represented in research. Study procedures at each time point will include cognitive tests, gait speed measurement, wrist actigraphy, a type 2 home polysomnography and a clinical examination. Participants will also complete self-identified assessments and questionnaires on cognitive ability, sleep, medication use, quality of life, sociodemographic characteristics, diet, substance use, and psychological and social health. Ethics and dissemination This study was approved by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Institutional Review Board. Deidentified datasets will be shared via the BioLINCC repository following the completion of the project. Biospecimen samples from the study that are not being analysed can be made available to qualified investigators on review and approval by study investigators. Requests that do not lead to participant burden or that conflict with the primary aims of the study will be reviewed by the study investigators.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere073734
JournalBMJ open
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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