The Effects of Psychosocial and Traumatic Stressors on MCI Diagnosis

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Katherine Goulden


Background and Objective: Toxic stress exposure can have effects across the lifespan. Studies of civilians and veterans suggest a connection between psychosocial and traumatic stressor exposure in adulthood and a diagnosis of dementia later in life. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of psychosocial and traumatic stressors on rates of MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment) diagnosis in Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging participants. Methods: 1,237 twin participants from the VETSA study were aged 61.72 ± 2.44 years at the time of data collection. Traumatic stress was measured by clinical interviewing, with psychosocial stressors quantified by self-report measures. Neuropsychological assessment determined MCI diagnosis. Previously conducted genotyping determined ApoE genotype. Mixed model analysis was used to determine effects on MCI diagnosis. Results: Our results from the mixed model analysis did not find a significant relationship between psychosocial and traumatic stress exposure and MCI diagnosis. PTSD diagnosis, measured by the DIS-III-R, collected for the Harvard Drug Study in 1996 (F = 0.249, p = 0.618) does not have a significant effect on MCI diagnosis. Life stress exposure, measured by the Holmes and Rahe (1967), (F = 0.249, p = 0.618) does not have a significant effect on MCI diagnosis. Significant associations were determined using the Type III fixed effects. Associations were considered statistically significant at p < 0.05, two-tailed. Implications: Few subjects in Wave 2 of VETSA had MCI (n = 147), due in part to the age of the participants at the time (Mean 61.72 ± (2.44 years)). This led to a lack of power in our analysis. Future studies should examine all available VETSA data.


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Article Details

veterans, mild cognitive impairment, psychosocial stress, traumatic stress
How to Cite
Goulden, K. (2024). The Effects of Psychosocial and Traumatic Stressors on MCI Diagnosis. Graduate Student Journal of Psychology, 22(1).