Líf - og heilbrigðisvísindaráðstefna Háskóla Íslands 2021

Meta-analysis on the association between PTSD and Cognitive Impairment

Main author: Snæfríður Guðmundsdóttir Aspelund
Institution or Company: Sálfræðideild, Háskólinn í Reykjavík

Co-Authors, Institution or Company:
Hjördís Lilja Lorange, Miðstöð í Lýðheilsuvísindum, Háskóli Íslands. Heiðdís B. Valdimarsdóttir, Sálfræðideild, Háskólinn í Reykjavík. Unnur A. Valdimarsdóttir, Miðstöð í Lýðheilsuvísindum, Háskóli Íslands. Þórhildur Halldórsdóttir, Sálfræðideild, Háskólinn í Reykjavík, Miðstöð í Lýðheilsuvísindum, Háskóli Íslands. Harpa Lind Jónsdóttir, Miðstöð í Lýðheilsuvísindum, Háskóli Íslands.

Introduction: Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe mental disorder that occurs in a subset of individuals exposed to traumatic events where the individual’s or someone else’s life or well-being is threatened. Symptoms such as memory and concentration problems are common alongside PTSD, but they are also characteristic of cognitive impairment and neurogenerative disorders. Although the topic is understudied, several studies have found an association between PTSD and cognitive impairment. The aim of this meta-analysis was to examine the association between PTSD and neurocognitive disorders and cognitive impairment and then stratify these associations by study design, depression, and type of trauma.

Methods: Peer-reviewed studies on this topic were extracted from PubMed and Web of Science, using predetermined keywords and inclusion and exclusion criteria. In total, 52 articles met our specific criteria.

Results: The collective findings from these studies suggested that PTSD is associated with impairment in cognitive function, such as complex attention and verbal memory, and neurocognitive disorders. Furthermore, individuals with co-occurring PTSD and depression appeared to be at particular risk for neurocognitive disorders. The preliminary analyses from our meta-analysis suggested that PTSD diagnosis was associated with diagnosis of neurocognitive disorders (random effect = 0,44 (95% CI: 0,14 – 0,74)). Our findings also provide evidence for an association between PTSD and impairment in cognitive function in clinical samples and among veterans.

Conclusions: Taken together, this meta-analysis indicates that individuals with co-occurring PTSD and depression are at particular risk for neurocognitive disorders.


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