Predictors of mental health literacy in older people

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 2018, 79 pp. 52 - 56
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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. Objectives: Older adults exhibit poorer mental health literacy than younger adults, including less accuracy at identifying symptoms of mental disorders, and endorsing fewer sources of treatment for a mental disorder. The current study's intention was to determine if the executive component of cognition is associated with mental health literacy in older adults, when controlling for other established predictors (sex, age, education, and proximity to someone with a mental disorder). Method: The sample included 85 cognitively healthy adults aged 60 and over. Participants completed the Mini-Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination III, the Trail Making Test, a Phonemic Verbal Fluency Test, and the Mental Health Literacy Scale. Results: A multiple regression indicated that age and mental health proximity significantly and uniquely predicted total mental health literacy (Age: β = -0.22, t = −2.04, p < 0.05; Proximity: β = 0.31, t = 2.78, p < 0.01). Older age predicted poorer PTSD mental health literacy (β = −0.31, t = −2.90, p < 0.01). Conclusion: In neurologically healthy older adults, level of executive function did not contribute to mental health literacy. Older adults in closer proximity to someone with a mental disorder were more likely to have better mental health literacy, a finding that has the potential to inform mental health education and promotion strategies in this population.
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