Personality and Lung Function in Older Adults

TitlePersonality and Lung Function in Older Adults
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsTerracciano, A, Stephan, Y, Luchetti, M, Gonzalez-Rothi, R, Sutin, AR
JournalThe Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
KeywordsHealth Conditions and Status, Healthcare

Objectives. Lung disease is a leading cause of disability and death among older adults. We examine whether personality traits are associated with lung function and shortness of breath (dyspnea) in a national cohort with and without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).Method. Participants (N = 12,670) from the Health and Retirement Study were tested for peak expiratory flow (PEF) and completed measures of personality, health behaviors, and a medical history.Results. High neuroticism and low extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness were associated with lower PEF, and higher likelihood of COPD and dyspnea. Conscientiousness had the strongest and most consistent associations, including lower risk of PEF less than 80 of the predicted value (OR = 0.67; 0.62 0.73) and dyspnea (OR = 0.52; 0.47 0.57). Although attenuated, the associations remained significant when accounting for smoking, physical activity, and chronic diseases including cardiovascular and psychiatric disorders. The associations between personality and PEF or dyspnea were similar among those with or without COPD, suggesting that psychological links to lung function are not disease dependent. In longitudinal analyses, high neuroticism ( = 0.019) and low conscientiousness ( = 0.027) predicted steeper declines in PEF.Discussion. A vulnerable personality profile is common among individuals with limited lung function and COPD, predicts shortness of breath and worsening lung function.

Endnote Keywords

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/Conscientiousness/Conscientiousness/Lung function/Peak expiratory flow/Personality/Personality/Shortness of breath

Endnote ID


Citation Key6519
PubMed ID26786321