Date of Award

1995

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

William Drew Gouvier

Abstract

Much research has focused on identifying the causes and risk factors associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Surprisingly, stress, which has been implicated in the course of a variety of other diseases, has been generally ignored in research on AD despite the fact that several different areas lend indirect support for a relationship between stress and the progression of AD. In this study, the effect of daily stress on the clinical course of AD was examined. Also, given that no study has examined the effects of daily stress on neuropsychological test performance, this relationship was examined as well. Forty-five out-patients with AD and 45 normal elderly controls participated in the study. All subjects were administered a battery of neuropsychological tests assessing general intelligence, attention, academic skills, language, memory, graphomotor skills, personality, and daily stress. Results suggested that daily stress was inversely related to WRAT-R arithmetic performance of the normal elderly controls, and was inversely related to immediate visual reproduction scores and attention scores of both groups. Within the AD group, subjects responded with greater distress to their daily stress events, but they did not report any difference in the frequency of stressful events in their lives. The results indicated that AD patients relative to controls reported significantly greater distress to stressful events. The results also suggested that daily stress should be considered when interpreting certain neuropsychological tests of memory and attention given to elderly individuals. Moreover, results suggested that daily stress needs to be accounted for when examining the data obtained from memory and attention tests.

Pages

103

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