The Role of Negative Cognitions in Depression, Functional Limitations, and Activity: A National Longitudinal Study of Older Adults




Wagner, Diane

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This study examines the role of negative cognitions in late life depression, functional limitations, and activity. Participants were 673 adults (36% male) aged 50 to 88 who completed repeated measures in 2004, 2008, and 2012 as part of the Health and Retirement Study, a large nationally representative longitudinal sample. Novel contributions of this study include combining functional limitations and cognitions in a cognitive model of depression to include aspects of depression that are specific to older adults, examining the unique contribution of cognitions in depression, and testing both growth and temporal covariance to capture the interrelatedness of depression and related factors over time. Three bivariate Latent Difference Score models tested time-lagged associations in pairs of variables at three time points. Contrary to expectations, depression levels and negative cognitions were unrelated over time, suggesting that cognitive theories of depression, which place cognitions at the core of depression etiology and maintenance, may not generalize to older adults. Negative cognitions were not related to functional limitations, suggesting that functional limitations do not influence negative cognitions in older adults. Higher levels of negative cognitions were related to increases in activity over time, suggesting that negative cognitions may motivate older adults to increase activity levels.



Clinical psychology, Activities, Cognitions, Depression, Functional Limitations, Older Adults