Masters Thesis

Associated Benefits of Positive Affect on Cognitive and Physical Health among Adults 50+ with and Without Fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a chronic pain condition most prevalent in women, particularly over the age of 50. Chronic conditions, including pain, affect more than half of adults over 65. Such conditions can contribute to functional limitations that lead to disability, illness, and death. Currently, the U.S. faces a national healthcare crisis that can be attributed to the deteriorating cognitive and physical health of older adults. Exploring ways to promote healthy behaviors that may prevent or delay such conditions should be of paramount importance. Past literature exploring the benefits of positive mood has linked elevated positive affect (PA) with improved memory, physical recovery, and habitual activity engagement. The focus of this study was to identify potential benefits of heightened levels of PA on various domains of cognition, physical performance, and perceived cognitive and physical health. A total of 94 individuals 50+ years of age with and without FM participated in the current investigation. A series of objective and subjective cognitive and physical assessments were administered. Results from the study indicate associated benefits of heightened PA for FM and non-FM individuals. For FM individuals, higher PA was associated with fewer reported problems with concentration and improved working memory performance. For non-FM individuals, higher PA was associated with fewer functional limitations, superior lower extremity strength, and fewer reported troubles with memory and concentration.

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