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Personality factors influence how patients with chronic disease view their health and functioning

Research Activities, July 2009, No. 347

Patients suffering from chronic diseases face many challenges in self-managing diet, exercise, medication, and other factors important to managing their conditions. Personality factors seem to play a role in how they view their health and functional status, concludes a new study. Anthony Jerant, M.D., of the University of California Davis School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed baseline data from chronically ill individuals enrolled in a study of approaches to improve disease self-management. They looked for associations between the NEO-Five Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) of personality factors (neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, and agreeableness) and the EQ-5D preference-based self-rated health measure. The EQ-5D scores five dimensions of health: mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/ discomfort, and anxiety/depression.

Of the 415 persons studied, 59 percent had 2 or more chronic conditions. For individual EQ-5D scores, one standard deviation (SD) increase in neuroticism worsened (increased) anxiety/depression scores nearly threefold, and openness (perhaps due to greater sensitivity to feelings and emotions) worsened the scores by 32 percent. Conscientiousness, on the other hand, was associated with better usual activities scores. There were no associations between agreeableness and extraversion and any EQ-5D dimension scores.

These findings remained after adjustment for patient age, gender, educational level, minority status, and chronic conditions. The results suggest that unmeasured personality effects might bias the findings for cost-effectiveness analysis (CEAs), since preference-based health assessments are used to calculate quality-adjusted life years for use in cost-effectiveness ratios. Routinely assessing the status of personality factors, along with the usual sociodemographic variables, may permit detection and statistical control for such effects, suggest the researchers. They call for more studies of these complex interrelationships. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS13603).

See "Personality and EQ-5D scores among individuals with chronic conditions," by Dr. Jerant, Benjamin P. Chapman, Ph.D., and Peter Franks, M.S., M.D., in Quality of Life Research 17, pp. 1195-1204, 2008.

Current as of July 2009
Internet Citation: Personality factors influence how patients with chronic disease view their health and functioning: Research Activities, July 2009, No. 347. July 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.