Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Psychological and Brain Sciences

Degree Program

Clinical Psychology, PhD

Committee Chair

Mast, Benjamin

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

McCarthy, Valerie

Committee Member

McCarthy, Valerie

Committee Member

Meeks, Suzanne

Committee Member

Salmon, Paul

Committee Member

Stetson, Barbara

Author's Keywords

cognitive impairment; dementia; help-seeking; aging; self-compassion


Older adults represent one of the fastest growing population groups with estimates predicting global growth from 617 million in 2015 to 1.6 billion in 2050. As the aged population increases, incidence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other dementias will also increase. Professionals agree that early intervention is essential for therapeutic and quality of life purposes. However, many older adults wait several months or years to seek medical help after first noticing signs of cognitive impairment. The present study seeks to identify the predictors of help-seeking for cognitive impairment by an individual for him/herself and the role that self-compassion may play in this process. Using two approaches, the present study reveals that cognitive (i.e., symptom identification and disease attribution) and affective (i.e., symptom impact and threat appraisal) factors predict help-seeking intentions while also providing evidence that help-seeking intentions may be a separate construct from help-seeking behavior in the context of responding to signs of AD. Contrary to hypotheses, self-compassion did not function as a moderator of help-seeking intentions nor did it significantly predict help-seeking intentions beyond other variables. Consideration is given as to why self-compassion may not have functioned in this process as expected. Self-compassion may have a greater impact on help-seeking actions than the intentions that seem to have been measured by the present study. Recommendations are made for future research to further investigate patients’ help-seeking actions in response to signs of cognitive impairment and to clarify whether or not self-compassion plays a role.