Look who is complaining: Psychological factors predicting subjective cognitive complaints in a large community sample of older adults

Diede Smit, Janneke Koerts*, Dorien Bangma, Anselm Fuermaier, Lara Tucha, Oliver Tucha

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Subjective cognitive complaints (SCCs) are not directly related to objective impairments in cognition. This study examines the role of psychological factors in predicting SCCs in the domains of executive functioning, memory, and attention in older adults. A community sample of 1,219 Dutch adults, aged 40 year or older, completed the BRIEF-A, MSEQ, FEDA, NEO-FFI, DASS-21, and a demographic questionnaire. Participants were randomly divided into exploratory (n = 813) and confirmatory samples (n = 406). In the exploratory sample, we analyzed whether personality factors, symptoms of depression and anxiety, perceived stress, and demographics could predict SCCs in the different cognitive domains. For this purpose, a two-step regression approach with bootstrapping was used. To independently validate the results, these analyses were repeated in the confirmatory sample. Concerning executive functioning, complaints regarding the ability to regulate behavior and emotional responses were predicted by lower agreeableness levels and higher levels of neuroticism and perceived stress. Complaints regarding the ability to actively solve problems in different circumstances were predicted by a lower conscientiousness level, higher agreeableness level, and more depressive symptoms. Attentional complaints were predicted by lower levels of conscientiousness and extraversion, together with a higher level of neuroticism. For memory, no significant predictors were consistently found. Psychological factors are of influence on the subjective experience of cognitive complaints. In particular personality factors, perceived stress, and symptoms of depression, seem to predict SCCs in the domains of executive functioning and attention. Clinicians should take these factors into account in older adults who have SCCs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-217
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Neuropsychology: Adult
Volume31
Issue number3
Early online date9-Dec-2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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