Facets of conscientiousness and motoric cognitive risk syndrome

J Psychiatr Res. 2022 Jul:151:73-77. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2022.03.050. Epub 2022 Apr 1.


Conscientiousness is related to a lower risk of motoric cognitive risk syndrome (MCR), a pre-dementia syndrome characterized by slow gait speed and cognitive complaints. The present study examines which facets of conscientiousness are related to concurrent and incident MCR. Participants were dementia-free older adults aged 65-99 years (N = 6001) from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). Baseline data on conscientiousness facets and MCR (cognitive complaints and gait speed) were collected in 2008/2010, along with the covariates: demographic factors, cognition, physical activity, disease burden, depressive symptoms, and body mass index (BMI). MCR was assessed again in 2012/2014 and 2016/2018. Controlling for demographic factors, higher industriousness was related to a nearly 30% lower likelihood of concurrent MCR (Odds Ratio [OR] = 0.75, 95%CI: 0.67-0.85, p < .001) and to about 60% reduced risk of incident MCR (Hazard ratio [HR] = 0.63, 95%CI: 0.56-0.71, p < .001). Self-control, order, and responsibility were also associated with a lower likelihood of concurrent (OR range: 0.82-0.88) and incident (HR range: 0.72-0.82) MCR. Traditionalism (HR = 0.84, 95%CI: 0.75-0.93, p < .01) and virtue (HR = 0.84, 95%CI: 0.75-0.93, p < .01) were related to a lower risk of incident MCR. Cognition, physical activity, disease burden, depressive symptoms, and BMI partially accounted for these associations. Industriousness is the facet of conscientiousness with the strongest association with risk of MCR. This facet could be targeted in interventions to reduce MCR and, ultimately, dementia.

Keywords: Cognitive complaint; Conscientiousness; Motoric cognitive risk; Walking speed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition
  • Cognition Disorders* / diagnosis
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / complications
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / epidemiology
  • Dementia*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Syndrome