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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.
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