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Subjective memory complaints & personality traits in normal elderly subjects

  [ 77 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 3, 1994

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the relationship between objectively
measured memory functions and subjective complaints of memory
disturbance and whether subjective complaints are affected by
some personality traits or affective states.

Cross-sectional two-group comparison.

SETTING: The city of
Kuopio in Eastern Finland, considered representative of the
urban elderly population of Finland.

403 subjects aged 67-78 years from the random sample and then
two matched study groups initially including eighteen subjects
but only ten in the final analysis.

and follow-up examinations of subjects with and without
subjective memory complaints: (1) Memory functions: Benton's
visual retention test and the paired-associated learning
subtest of Wechsler Memory Scale. (2) Memory complaints:
Memory Complaint Questionnaire. (3) Personality traits and
affective state: Two subscales from Minnesota Multiphasic
Personality Inventory and Geriatric Depression Scale.

Complaints of memory loss did not correlate with the actual
memory performance in the tests. However, those subjects who
most emphatically complained of memory disturbance had greater
tendencies toward somatic complaining, higher feelings of
anxiety about their physical health, and more negative
feelings of their own competence and capabilities than those
who did not complain of memory deterioration associated with

CONCLUSIONS: The study suggests that subjective feelings
of memory impairment are more closely associated with
personality traits than with actual memory performance in
normal elderly people.

Hanninen T, Reinikainen KJ, Helkala EL, Koivisto K, Mykkanen L,
Laakso M, Pyorala K, Riekkinen PJ

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