ObjectiveThe prevalence of older adults living with HIV is rising, as is their risk for everyday functioning problems associated with neurocognitive dysfunction. Multitasking, the ability to maintain and carry out subgoals in support of a larger goal, is a multidimensional skill ubiquitous during most real-life tasks and associated with prefrontal networks that are vulnerable in HIV. Understanding factors associated with multitasking will improve characterization of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. Metacognition is also associated with frontal systems, is impaired among individuals with HIV, and may contribute to multitasking.
MethodNinety-nine older (≥50 years) adults with HIV completed: the Everyday Multitasking Test (MT), a performance-based measure during which participants concurrently attempt four everyday tasks (e.g., medication management) within a time limit; a comprehensive neuropsychological battery; measures of metacognition regarding their MT performance (e.g., metacognitive knowledge and online awareness).
ResultsBetter global neuropsychological performance (i.e., average T-score across all domains) was associated with better Everyday MT total scores (rho = 0.34; p < .001), as was global metacognition (rho = 0.37, p < .01). Bootstrapping mediation analysis revealed global metacognition was a significant partial mediator between neurocognition and Everyday MT (b = 0.09, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.01, 0.25). Specifically, metacognitive knowledge (but not online awareness) drove this mediation (b = 0.13, 95% CI = 0.03, 0.27).
ConclusionsConsistent with findings among younger persons with HIV, neuropsychological performance is strongly associated with a complex, laboratory-based test of everyday multitasking, and metacognition of task performance was a pathway through which successful multitasking occurred. Interventions aimed at modifying metacognition to improve daily functioning may be warranted among older adults with HIV.