Somatic complaints in males as a function of age and neuroticism: A longitudinal analysis

Paul T. Costa, Robert R. McCrae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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 CMI 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-257
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 1980


  • age
  • longitudinal analyses
  • neuroticism
  • psychological distress
  • somatic complaints

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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