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Association between personality traits and mental health outcomes in older adults with lifetime trauma exposure: a nationwide community sample

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2016

Jee Eun Park
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea
Hye Won Suk
Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Arizona, USA
Su Jeong Seong
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, South Korea
Ji Hoon Sohn
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea
Bong-Jin Hahm
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea
Dong-Woo Lee
Department of Psychiatry, Inje University Sanggye Paik Hospital, Seoul, South Korea
Maeng Je Cho*
Department of Neuropsychiatry, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea
Correspondence should be addressed to: Maeng Je Cho, MD, PhD Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Seoul National University College of Medicine & Hospital, 101, Daehak-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110–744, South Korea. Phone: +82-2-2072-3155; Fax: +82-2-744-7241. Email:



This study evaluated the impacts of earlier traumatic events on the mental health of older adults, in terms of mental disorders and mental well-being, according to sociodemographic variables, trauma-related characteristics, and personality traits in a nationally representative sample of older Koreans.


A total of 1,621 subjects aged 60 to 74 years from a Korean national epidemiological survey of mental disorders responded face-to-face interviews. The Korean Composite International Diagnostic Interview was used to investigate lifetime trauma exposure (LTE) and psychiatric diagnoses. The EuroQol health classification system and life satisfaction scale were used to assess quality of life (QoL), and the Big Five Inventory-10 (BFI-10) to measure personality traits.


Five-hundred and seventy-seven subjects (35.6%) reported a history of LTE (mean age at trauma, 30.8 years old). Current mental disorders were more prevalent in elderly people with LTE, while better current QoL was more frequent in those without LTE. Among older people with LTE, lower extraversion and higher neuroticism increased the risk of current mood or anxiety disorders, whereas higher extraversion increased the probability of experiencing mental well-being after adjusting for sociodemographic and trauma-related variables.


Personality traits, especially extraversion, and neuroticism, may be useful for predicting the mental health outcomes of LTE in older adults. Further longitudinal studies investigating the relationship between traumatic events and mental health outcomes are needed.

Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2016 

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