Repetitive Negative Thinking is associated with Subjective Cognitive Decline in older adults: a cross-sectional study
Background: In the absence of a cure or effective treatment for dementia, attention has shifted towards identifying risk factors for prevention. Subjective Cognitive Decline (SCD) describes self-perceived worsening of cognition despite unimpaired performance on neuropsychological tests. SCD has been associated with an increased dementia risk and steeper memory decline. Repetitive negative thinking (RNT) is a transdiagnostic process that manifests across several mental health disorders
... disorders associated with increased vulnerability to dementia. RNT has thus been proposed as a candidate marker of risk for dementia and, relatedly, could contribute to the manifestation of SCD. We aimed to investigate the relationship between SCD and RNT alongside other proposed psychological risk/protective factors for dementia and cognitive decline. Methods: In a cross-sectional online survey, 491 older adults (mean=64.9 years, SD=4.2; 63.1% female) completed measures of RNT, personality traits, purpose in life, worry, rumination, and meditation practice. SCD was assessed continuously via self-perceived cognitive function (Neuro-QoL) and categorically via endorsement (yes/no) of memory complaints. Regression models, using a stepwise backwards elimination, were built to assess associations between SCD, demographics, and all risk/protective factors.Results: A total of 24.2% of participants reported memory complaints. In the final prediction models, RNT was the only psychological variable associated with lower self-perceived cognitive function and with a higher likelihood of memory complaints. Conclusions: This study empirically corroborates the theoretical relationship between SCD and RNT. Longitudinal studies are needed to establish whether RNT is a prodromal symptom or an independent risk factor, and whether RNT can be a promising construct for future research on SCD and dementia risk.