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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
Background: Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients have been described as having an introverted, rigid and harm-avoidant personality, which present decades before motor symptoms begin. Previous studies have relied on subjective reports about patients’ premorbid personalities. The objectives of this study were to examine current personality profiles of PD patients and to assess how personality indicators of early-adult life correlate with current personality.

Methods: Data were collected from 89 PD cases and 99 controls through in-person assessments of current personality characteristics and early-adult life personality indicators based on activities and lifestyle patterns during ages 20 - 35 years. Associations of latent variables representing early-adult activity risks, lifestyle risks and routinization with current personality characteristics were studied using Pearson correlations, partialling out the effects of age, sex and education.

Results: Greater 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 evident in cases compared to controls, adjusting for age, sex and education. Significant correlations between early-life indicators and late-life personality characteristics were consistent among cases and controls for associations of early-adult life routinization with current measures of neuroticism (cases: r = 0.33, P = 0.01; controls: r = 0.26, P = 0.04), extraversion (cases: r = -0.33, P = 0.01; controls: r = -0.33, P = 0.04), novelty-seeking (cases: r = -0.33, P = 0.015; controls: r = -0.34, P = 0.007) and harm-avoidance (cases: r = 0.47, P = 0.0003; controls: r = 0.45, P = 0.0002) and for early-adult life activity risks with harm-avoidance (cases: r = -0.47, P = 0.0004; controls: r = -0.42, P = 0.0006).

Conclusion: Current personality profile of PD cases, reflected by higher neuroticism and harm-avoidance, may reflect stable personality traits characterized by greater routinization and lower risk-taking in earlier adult life.
  • Early-adult life,
  • Personality,
  • 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) p. 51 - 62 ISSN: 1923-2853
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