Personality traits and preventive cancer screenings in the Health Retirement Study.

TitlePersonality traits and preventive cancer screenings in the Health Retirement Study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsAschwanden, D, Gerend, MA, Luchetti, M, Stephan, Y, Sutin, AR, Terracciano, A
JournalPreventative Med
ISSN Number1096-0260
KeywordsCancer screenings, Personality, Preventative Care

The Five-Factor model of personality has been associated with a wide range of health behaviors and health outcomes. However, few studies have examined whether personality traits are related to cancer screening in older adults. The present study investigated the cross-sectional associations between personality traits and the probability of obtaining a recent preventive screening for breast, cervical, prostate, and colorectal cancer. Participants from the Health and Retirement Study (N = 14,394, M = 68.14 years, range = 50-102 years, 58.6% female) completed a personality inventory and reported on cancer screenings in the 2010-2012 assessment. Logistic regression models were used to analyze the data, including age, race, ethnicity, gender, education, income, and wealth as covariates. Higher conscientiousness was associated with a higher likelihood of obtaining breast, cervical, and prostate screening. Higher extraversion was related to higher odds of breast, cervical, and colorectal screening. Higher neuroticism was linked to higher odds of colorectal screening, and conscientiousness moderated the link between neuroticism and cervical screening. These associations were significant in models that accounted for demographic and socioeconomic factors. The effect sizes were in the range of a 10-20% higher likelihood of cancer screening for 1 SD difference in personality. The present findings suggest that conscientiousness and extraversion were related to preventive cancer screenings, whereas neuroticism, openness and agreeableness were largely unrelated to the likelihood of such screenings. If these results are further replicated, health policy makers may consider personality traits when planning and implementing screening recommendations to improve preventive medicine.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalPrev Med
Citation Key10139
PubMed ID31260725
PubMed Central IDPMC6810562
Grant ListR01 AG053297 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
R21 AG057917 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
U01 AG009740 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States