The Influence of Psychosocial and Cognitive Factors on Perceived Threat of Alzheimer’s Disease

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Abstract

This study explored psychosocial and cognitive predictors of perceived threat of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Respondents were 1641 adults (mean age: 64.4; 54% female; 82% white) who completed a module in the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative survey of adults aged ≥50. Findings show that perceived threat was significantly higher for those aged 50 to 64 (P < .001) and 65 to 74 (P < .05) than for those ≥75. Respondents with a family history of AD had significantly greater perceived threat (P < .001) than those with no experience. Stronger endorsement of the beliefs that stress (P < .01) or genetics (P < .01) are important AD risk factors was significantly associated with greater perceived threat, as was having more depressive symptoms (P < .01), poorer self-rated memory (P < .01), and lower cognitive function (P < .01). Personal experience moderated the relationship between perceived threat and 2 variables: age and self-rated memory. Understanding perceived AD threat may inform practice and policies centered on early and accurate diagnosis.

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