Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

John L. Woodard


Introduction: Fear of Alzheimer’s disease (FAD), or Anticipatory Dementia, is a healthy adult’s misinterpretation of everyday memory failures as indicators of developing dementia. The current study investigated the construct of FAD and aimed to contextualize FAD within the Health Belief Model through development of a new scale, the Anticipatory Dementia Index (ADI). The study also assessed the relationship between FAD and metacognitive monitoring and metacognitive control.

Methods: 94 cognitively-intact community-dwelling older adults with and without a history of family history of AD completed questionnaires regarding their subjective memory complaints, state and trait anxiety, depression, and multiple measures of FAD, including the ADI. Participants also completed a list-learning task in which they were required to provide Judgment of Learning estimates of their recall after each trial (metacognitive monitoring) and to adjust their study time based on their perceived performance (metacognitive control).

Results: There were no differences in FAD based on family history of AD or caregiving. FAD was significantly associated with subjective memory complaints, trait-level negative affect, and depression. FAD was not associated with metacognitive monitoring or accuracy of monitoring, metacognitive control, or objective memory functioning. Metacognitive monitoring and increased study time were associated with memory performance. Finally, the ADI is comprised of six components that map FAD onto the Health Belief Model.

Conclusions: FAD appears to be more affective than cognitive. Interventions for FAD should increase public knowledge of prevalence and risk for AD, and increase self-efficacy and motivation for health and lifestyle changes to reduce AD risk.