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Early-Adult Life Correlates of Personality in Parkinson's Disease
Journal of Neurology Research (2014)
  • Kelly L. Sullivan, Georgia Southern University
  • James A. Mortimer, University of South Florida
  • Wei Wang, University of South Florida
  • Theresa A. Zesiewicz, University of South Florida
  • James H Brownlee, Jr., University of South Florida
  • Amy R. Borenstein, University of South Florida

Objective:Determine current personality characteristics of PD cases and assess their correlation with more objective indicators of early-adult life personality in cases and controls.

Background:Parkinson's disease (PD) patients have been reported as having an introverted, rigid and harm-avoidant personality. Although these characteristics have been attributed to a pre-morbid personality, previous studies have relied on subjective reports of patients' previous personalities that may have been biased by current symptoms.

Design/Methods:We conducted a case-control study of 89 PD cases and 99 controls. In-person assessments evaluated current personality characteristics using standard instruments (NEO-FFI; TCI). Risky activities and behaviors as well as preference for a routine lifestyle between ages 20-35 were used as indicators of early-adult personality. Pearson correlations were obtained for associations of early-adult risky activities and routinization with current personality characteristics, partialling out the effects of age, sex and education.

Results:Current levels of neuroticism (OR=1.05 (95% CI 1.00-1.11)) and harm-avoidance (OR=1.07 (95% CI 1.00-1.15)) were higher in cases compared with controls, adjusted for age, sex and education. Correlations between early-adult indicators and current personality characteristics were consistent among both cases and controls for associations of early-adult life routinization with current levels of extraversion (cases: r=-0.33, p=0.01; controls: r=-0.33, p=0.04), harm-avoidance (cases: r=0.47, p=0.0003; controls: r=0.45, p=0.0002), neuroticism (cases: r=0.33, p=0.01; controls: r=0.26, p=0.04), and novelty-seeking (cases: r=-0.33, p=0.015; controls: r=-0.34, p=0.007); taking or wanting to take activity risks as a young adult was significantly correlated with current levels of harm-avoidance (cases: r=-0.47, p=0.0004; controls: r=-0.42, p=0.0006).

Conclusions:Cases with PD had personalities characterized by higher neuroticism and harm-avoidance. Correlation of these characteristics with early-adult personality indicators suggests that personality characteristics of patients with PD are likely to be stable across the adult life course and not a response to developing symptoms of the disease.

Disclosure:Dr. Sullivan has nothing to disclose. Dr. Mortimer has received personal compensation for activities with Davies, McFarland, and Carroll. Dr. Wang has nothing to disclose. Dr. Zesiewicz has received personal compensation for activities with Teva Pharmaceuticals as a speaker. Dr. Zesiewicz has received research support from Bobby Allison Ataxia Research Center, National Ataxia Foundation, Astellas Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance, Takeda, Biovail Corporation, Southern Illinois University, and Allon Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Brownlee has received personal compensation for activities with Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly & Company, and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dr. Borenstein has nothing to disclose.

  • Personality,
  • Early adults,
  • Parkinson's disease
Publication Date
Citation Information
Kelly L. Sullivan, James A. Mortimer, Wei Wang, Theresa A. Zesiewicz, et al.. "Early-Adult Life Correlates of Personality in Parkinson's Disease" Journal of Neurology Research Vol. 4 Iss. 2-3 (2014)
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