Somatic complaints in males as a function of age and neuroticism: a longitudinal analysis.
Previous research has shown that both age and neuroticism are correlated with total scores on self-report health inventories; the present study concerns the influence of these two factors on reports of physical complaints in various bodily systems. Six- and twelve-year longitudinal analyses of the physical health sections (A-L) of the Cornell medical Index were supplemented with cross-and time-sequential analyses. Subjects, aged 17-97, were taken from a group of 1038 male participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Results showed that problems in sensory, cardiovascular, and genitourinary systems increased with age, while health habits improved. More neurotic subjects, as measured by the psychiatric sections (M-R) of the CMId and the Emotional Stability Scale of the GZTS showed higher levels of endorsements on all sections. These results suggest that age does not produce a generalized increase in physical complaints; instead, specific age-related symptoms show increases. Implications of these findings for research involving self-assessments of health are discussed.
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