Temporal stability is a basic assumption underlying any personality trait construct. Previous research on the stability of alexithymia has led to a controversy over whether alexithymia should be viewed as a state-dependent phenomenon or as a stable personality trait. The aim of this 5-year longitudinal study was to examine the temporal stability of alexithymia in the general population in Finland.
Alexithymia was measured with the 20-Item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) at the baseline and 5 years later.
The test-retest correlations of the TAS-20 total and factor-specific scores at the baseline and at the 5-year follow-up ranged from moderate to high in both genders, reflecting a rather high relative stability of the TAS-20 scores over a period of 5 years.
The findings of our study suggest that alexithymia behaves like a stable personality trait in the general population.
The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of alexithymia in an elderly Finnish population sample. Associations between alexithymia and sociodemographic factors were investigated, together with the relationship between alexithymia and perceived somatic health and self-reported psychic health. The study forms a part of the Turun Vanhustutkimus (TUR-VA) project, which is a longitudinal, prospective follow-up study dealing with psychosocial adaptation to retirement and to old age. The study group consisted of a population sample of 72-year-old people (N = 190). Alexithymia was measured with the 26-item version of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-26). The prevalence of alexithymia was 34%. Alexithymia was associated with poor perceived somatic health. Alexithymia was associated with having a psychiatric disturbance (measured by the 36-item General Health Questionnaire [GHQ-36]), but this relationship disappeared when the influence of perceived somatic health was controlled for. Alexithymia was not associated with gender, marital status, social status, or residential area.
Alexithymic characteristics were assessed by the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS), a self-report measure of alexithymia, in 230 consecutive outpatients referred to a psychiatric consultation-liaison service. The prevalence of alexithymia was 37.8% (50.5% in men and 28.2% in women). Alexithymia was significantly associated with the following variables: male gender, low socioeconomic status, the presence of psychiatric disorder, especially depression, with old age and with a high level of psychological distress. No significant association between alexithymia and the presence of somatic illness was found.
Alexithymia seems to share some common features with psychological constriction, a phenomenon described in suicidal individuals. Fifty suicide attempters were interviewed within 24 h after arrival at a hospital, and measures of lethality of the attempt, suicidal intent, depression and alexithymia were carried out with structured instruments. Almost all the attempters were depressive, and about half of them were also alexithymic. However, alexithymia was not more prevalent in this population than in non-suicidal depressive patients. Depression and alexithymia correlated significantly with each other, but there was no correlation between alexithymia and lethality of the suicide attempt or suicidal intent. The authors conclude that alexithymia in suicide attempters seems to be associated with depression, but not with suicidality per se. Therefore, measurement of alexithymia may not yield extra information in suicide risk assessment.
We investigated if alexithymia, a personality construct with difficulties in emotional processing, is stable in the general population.
Altogether 3083 unselected subjects aged 30 and older in Finland completed the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) in the longitudinal Health 2000 and Health 2011 general population surveys (BRIF8901). The stability of alexithymia at the 11-year follow-up was assessed with t-tests, correlations, and separate linear regression models with base-line and follow-up age, gender, marital status, education, and 12-month depressive and anxiety disorders as confounders.
The mean score (SD) of the TAS-20 for the whole sample was 44.2 (10.4) in 2000 and 44.2 (10.9) in 2011 (p=0.731). The mean score of the TAS-20 subscale Difficulty Identifying Feelings increased by 0.3 points, Difficulty Describing Feelings decreased by 0.6 points and Externally Oriented Thinking increased by 0.3 points. The effect sizes of the changes varied from negligible to small. Age had little effect except for the group of the oldest subjects (75-97years): the TAS-20 mean (SD) score was 49.1 (10.1) in 2000 and 53.1 (10.3) in 2011 (p
The predictive value of cognitive impairment together with demographic and health factors on long-term survival was evaluated. The population sample comprised 389 subjects, all 62 years old. Cognitive performances were measured using verbal, visuomotor and memory tests. Cognitive impairment was determined by comparing performances with norms derived from healthy controls. Ten years after testing, the probability of survival was 89% for the cognitively preserved subjects, 80% for those with mild impairment, and 71% for those with moderate impairment (p = 0.009). Relative risk (RR) for shortened survival was 1.7 (95% CI 0.9-3.2) for the mildly, and 2.6 (95% CI 1.4-4.8) for the moderately impaired. Perceived health problems were, as expected, related to reduced survival (p
During the period 1987-1994 there has been a threefold increase in disability pensions granted to individuals with affective disorders in Finland. Possible reasons for this development include a deep economic recession, changes in the diagnostic system, and better recognition of affective disorders. Against this background, it seems relevant to ask why, over the same period, the functional capacity of depressive patients has markedly deteriorated, causing an increase in disability pensions, despite the fact that many new drugs and other treatments have become available.
Four WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale) subtests, and tasks of memory and cognitive control were administered to a population sample of 143 men and 179 women. Subjects with a minor advantage in years of education out-performed those with only primary schooling. Gender-related effects were also remarkable. Whereas the general abilities were equal in the genders, women out-performed men on recall of word pairs and objects, on verbal cognitive control and on Digit Symbol. In contrast, men excelled on Trail Making A, and on Block Design. The findings emphasize the need for age norms by gender and education for cognitive tests.
The prevalence of alexithymia and its association with sociodemographic variables were studied in a sample of 1285 subjects representing the general population of Finland. Alexithymia was measured with the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). Alexithymia was normally distributed in the population in both genders, confirming that it is a personality dimension. The prevalence of alexithymia was 13%. Men were alexithymic almost twice (17%) as often as women (10%). Multivariate analysis showed that alexithymia was associated with male gender, advanced age, low educational level, and low socioeconomic status. As to the three factors of the TAS-20, men scored higher in factors 2 (difficulty in describing feelings) and 3 (externally oriented thinking). but there was no gender difference in factor 1 (difficulty in identifying feelings). Comparative population studies in other countries are needed to find out whether there are any differences in the prevalence of alexithymia between cultures.