Hostility and change in cognitive function over time in older blacks and whites

Psychosom Med. 2009 Jul;71(6):652-8. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e3181a651b3. Epub 2009 May 29.


Objective: To test whether the level of hostility predicted the rate of cognitive decline in a community of older blacks and whites and whether the association varied as a function of race.

Methods: Over 4800 persons from a defined community in Chicago completed up to three structured interviews at approximately 3 year intervals over a period of up to 8.8 years (mean = 4.4 years). At the baseline interview, hostility was assessed with 8-items from the Cook-Medley Hostility Scale. Cognitive function was assessed at each interview with four cognitive function tests from which a composite measure of cognition was formed. Mixed effects models were used to assess change in cognition and its relation to hostility, controlling for age, sex, education, and race.

Results: The average score on the hostility scale at baseline was 3.0 (SD = 2.1). Higher levels of hostility were associated with lower cognitive scores (estimate = -0.028, SE = 0.004, p < .001). Cognition declined at a rate of 0.051 U per year on average, but hostility was not related to the rate of decline. Results were unchanged after controlling for depressive symptoms, chronic health, neuroticism, and social and cognitive activity patterns, or when persons with cognitive impairment at baseline were excluded. The association was similar in blacks and whites.

Conclusion: The results suggest that hostility is associated with level of cognitive function in older persons but not related to cognitive decline.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology
  • Black People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Personality Inventory
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / statistics & numerical data
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • White People / psychology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*