Anxiety symptoms predicted decline in episodic memory in cognitively healthy older adults: A 3‐year prospective study

Ada Wai Tung Fung, Joyce Sau Wa Lee, Allen Ting Chun Lee, Linda Chiu Wa Lam

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Prospective studies on late‐life anxiety disorders suggested that history of anxiety symptoms may be predictive of cognitive decline in old age. However, the relationship between anxiety and cognitive decline is still inconclusive due to heterogeneity in sample and methodology. This study was to explore how baseline anxiety symptoms associated with the change of memory in older people without cognitive impairment over a 3‐year period. Methods: This was a 3‐year prospective study on 91 cognitively normal older adults with anxiety symptoms. They were matched with 91 controls based on age, gender, and education. Anxiety symptoms were assessed with Revised Clinical Interview Schedule (CIS‐R). Physical health was assessed with Chronic Illness Rating Scale (CIRS). Cognitive performance was measured using Cantonese version of the mini‐mental state examination (CMMSE); 10‐minute delay recall; Category verbal fluency test (CVFT); Trail making tests (TMT); and digit and visual span tests. Outcomes were determined as the change of cognitive performance over a 3‐year period. Results: As expected, anxiety group had higher score in CIRS score (t = 4.45, P < .001) and CIS‐R score (t = 9.24, P < .001) than control group. Linear regression showed that baseline anxiety symptoms were associated with change in delayed recall (B = 0.77, P = 0.027, 95% CI = 0.09–1.46), after adjusting for cognitive performance, physical, and mental health statuses. Conclusions: Anxious healthy older adults showed specific decline in episodic memory over a 3-year interval. Our result suggested that anxiety symptoms are predictive of episodic memory decline in cognitively healthy older adults and may be an early sign of neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)748-754
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anxiety/anxiety disorders
  • Assessment/diagnosis
  • Cognition
  • Depression
  • Geriatric/aging/elderly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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