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Neuroepidemiology. 2019;52(1-2):86-92. doi: 10.1159/000492821. Epub 2019 Jan 2.

Conscientiousness Is Associated with Lower Risk of Dementia among Black and White Older Adults.

Kaup AR1,2,3, Harmell AL4, Yaffe K5,4,6.

Author information

1
Research Service, San Francisco VA Health Care System, San Francisco, California, USA, allison.kaup@ucsf.edu.
2
Mental Health Service, San Francisco VA Health Care System, San Francisco, California, USA, allison.kaup@ucsf.edu.
3
Department of Psychiatry, Weill Institute for Neurosciences, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA, allison.kaup@ucsf.edu.
4
Mental Health Service, San Francisco VA Health Care System, San Francisco, California, USA.
5
Research Service, San Francisco VA Health Care System, San Francisco, California, USA.
6
Department of Neurology and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

While some personality traits may reduce risk of dementia, this is controversial and has not been studied as much among diverse populations. We examined associations between 2 traits - Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience - and risk of dementia among black and white older adults.

METHODS:

We studied 875 older adults (ages 71-82, 47% black) without prevalent dementia from the Health, Aging and Body Composition study, who completed the NEO Five-Factor Inventory for Conscientiousness and Openness to Experience. Incident dementia over 8 years (mean = 6.9 years) was determined by hospital records, medications, or ≥1.5 SD race-specific decline on the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination. In adjusted models, we investigated associations between each trait and risk of dementia, including for race interactions.

RESULTS:

Associations between personality traits and dementia risk did not differ by race (interactions: p > 0.7). Higher Conscientiousness was associated with lower dementia risk (adjusted HR per 1SD = 0.78; 95% CI 0.65-0.94). There was no association for Openness to Experience (adjusted HR per 1SD = 0.88; 95% CI 0.71-1.08).

CONCLUSIONS:

Higher Conscientiousness is associated with lower dementia risk, even among diverse populations. Higher Conscientiousness may be protective, or lower Conscientiousness may be an early symptom of neurodegenerative disease.

KEYWORDS:

Conscientiousness; Dementia; Openness to experience; Personality

PMID:
30602170
DOI:
10.1159/000492821
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