Stress Is Associated With Neurocognitive Function in Hispanic/Latino Adults: Results From HCHS/SOL Socio-Cultural Ancillary Study

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2021 Mar 14;76(4):e122-e128. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbz144.


Objectives: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the hypothesis that chronic and acculturative stress would be negatively associated with neurocognitive function among middle aged to older Hispanics/Latinos.

Method: Our analytic sample consisted of 3,265 participants (mean age = 56.7 (±0.24)) from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos who participated in its Sociocultural Ancillary Study. During the baseline phase of this project, participants were assessed on multiple domains of neurocognitive function, and completed self-report measures of chronic and acculturative stress.

Results: Each standard deviation increase in chronic stress was associated with lower performance in a verbal learning task (B = -.17, 95% CI [-.32, -.01]); this association was no longer significant after adjusting for mental and physical health symptoms, including depression and anxiety symptoms, and cardiovascular health. A standard deviation increase in acculturative stress was associated with poorer performance in all cognitive measures (Bs range = -.13 to -1.03). Associations of acculturation stress with psychomotor speed, verbal learning, and word fluency remained significant after adjusting for mental and physical health symptoms.

Discussion: Our results suggest that mental and physical health may help explain some cross-sectional associations between stress and cognition and highlight the need to examine culture-specific psychosocial stressors to better understand the context of psychosocial risk factors for neurocognitive performance.

Keywords: Acculturative stress; Cognition; Hispanic; Latino; Stress.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acculturation*
  • Cognition*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Status and Dementia Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychology*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report / statistics & numerical data
  • Stress, Psychological* / ethnology
  • Stress, Psychological* / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological* / psychology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Verbal Learning