Couple similarities for cognitive functions and psychological health

J Clin Epidemiol. 2000 Jun;53(6):589-93. doi: 10.1016/s0895-4356(99)00189-4.


Spouse correlations for cognitive functions and psychological state were investigated using data on 31 spouse pairs. Subjects were part of the Epidemiology of Vascular Aging (EVA) study, a longitudinal study on cognitive and vascular aging. Between July 1991 and June 1993, 1389 subjects aged 59 to 71 years old were recruited, including 318 couples. Cognitive tests assessed global functioning, verbal fluency, attention, verbal memory, psychomotor speed, and logical intelligence. Depressive symptoms and anxiety levels were assessed by the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale and Spielberger Scale, respectively. Statistically significant positive spouse correlations were found for both psychological scales, spousal similarity being higher for depressive symptoms (r = 0.31, P < 0.0001) than anxiety level (r = 0.13, P = 0.04). When controlling for age, education level, and psychotropic drug use, these associations were not modified. Except for attention and psychomotor speed, significant positive spouse correlations, ranging from 0.18 for logical intelligence to 0.36 for global functioning, were observed for all cognitive performances. When adjusting for age, education level, and depressive symptoms, correlation coefficients decreased and spouse correlations remained significant for global assessments and verbal fluency. These results suggest that, in the elderly, spouse correlations are high for depressive symptoms and rather moderate for anxiety levels and cognitive performances.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Cognition*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence Tests
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Memory
  • Mental Health*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Psychotropic Drugs / therapeutic use


  • Psychotropic Drugs