The relationship between optimism, MCI, and dementia among postmenopausal women

Aging Ment Health. 2023 Jun;27(6):1208-1216. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2022.2084710. Epub 2022 Jun 11.


Objectives: The relationship between optimism and cognitive functioning is not fully understood. We examined the association of optimism with risk of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and dementia in the Women's Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS).

Methods: Optimism was measured by the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R) total score, and optimism and pessimism subscales. A panel of experts adjudicated cognitive endpoints based on annual cognitive assessments. We used cox proportional hazard regression models to examine the association of LOT-R total score and optimism and pessimism sub-scores with MCI/dementia. We also examined the relationship between vascular disease, LOT-R total score, optimism and pessimism, and cognition.

Results: Mean age was 70.5 (SD = 3.9) years. The sample (N = 7249) was 87% white, and 29.8% of participants had < 12 years of education. Total LOT-R score (HR = 0.96, 95% CI: 0.94, 0.98, p < 0.001) was associated with lower risk of combined MCI or dementia. More pessimism (HR = 1.08, 95% CI: 1.05, 1.11, p < 0.0001) was associated with higher risk of MCI or dementia after adjustment for ethnicity, education, vascular disease, and depression. No significant relationships emerged from the optimism subscale.

Conclusion: These data suggest that less pessimism, but not more optimism, was associated with a lower risk of MCI and dementia.

Keywords: LOT-R; MCI; dementia; optimism; pessimism.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / epidemiology
  • Dementia* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Optimism
  • Postmenopause
  • Vascular Diseases*