Intelligence in youth and mental health at age 50

Wraw, C., Deary, I. J., Der, G. and Gale, C. R. (2016) Intelligence in youth and mental health at age 50. Intelligence, 58, pp. 69-79. (doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2016.06.005) (PMID:27642201) (PMCID:PMC5014225)

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Background: Few cognitive epidemiology studies on mental health have focused on the links between pre-morbid intelligence and self-reports of common mental disorders, such as depression, sleep difficulties, and mental health status. The current study examines these associations in 50-year-old adults. Methods: The study uses data from the 5793 participants in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 cohort (NLSY-79) who responded to questions on mental health at age 50 and had IQ measured with the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) when they were aged between 15 and 23 years in 1980. Mental health outcomes were: life-time diagnosis of depression; the mental component score of the 12-item short-form Health Survey (SF-12); the 7-item Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D); and a summary measure of sleep difficulty. Results and conclusion: Higher intelligence in youth is associated with a reduced risk of self-reported mental health problems at age 50, with age-at-first-interview and sex adjusted Bs as follows: CES-depression (B = − 0.16, C.I. − 0.19 to − 0.12, p < 0.001), sleep difficulties (B = − 0.11, C.I. − 0.13 to − 0.08, p < 0.001), and SF-12 mental health status (OR = 0.78, C.I. 0.72 to 0.85, p < 0.001; r = − 0.03 p = 0.075). Conversely, intelligence in youth is linked with an increased risk of receiving a diagnosis of depression by the age of 50 (OR 1.11, C.I. 1.01 to 1.22, p = 0.024; r = 0.03, p = 0.109). No sex differences were observed in the associations. Adjusting for adult SES accounted for most of the association between IQ and the mental health outcomes, except for having reported a diagnosis of depression, in which case adjusting for adult SES led to an increase in the size of the positive association (OR = 1.32, C.I. 1.16 to 1.51, p < 0.001).

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was undertaken in The University of Edinburgh Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology, part of the cross council Lifelong Health and Wellbeing Initiative (MR/K026992/1). Funding from the BBSRC and the Medical Research Council (MRC) is gratefully acknowledged.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Der, Mr Geoffrey
Authors: Wraw, C., Deary, I. J., Der, G., and Gale, C. R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Public Health
Journal Name:Intelligence
ISSN (Online):1873-7935
Published Online:16 July 2016
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 The Authors
First Published:First published in Intelligence 58:69-79
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
727651SPHSU Core Renewal: Measuring and Analysing Socioeconomic Inequalities in Health Research ProgrammeAlastair LeylandMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_12017/13IHW - MRC/CSO SPHU