Optimistic people live longer

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Optimism: Health self-assessment has an impact on life expectancy

An optimistic assessment of one's own health prolongs life, which is the result of a current study by Swiss researchers from the University of Zurich. The scientists found that the risk of death over the 30-year investigation period was around three times higher for a “very bad” assessment of their own health than for a “very good” one. Mortality among women was almost twice as high when the subjects rated their health as "very bad".

More than 8,000 Swiss people questioned about their health The researchers from the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich asked around 8,250 Swiss people about their own health at the beginning of their long-term study in the late 1970s and then subjected the study participants to an intensive health check. After more than 30 years, study director Matthias Bopp and colleagues from the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine have now analyzed the connection between the self-assessment of the state of health at the time and the mortality of the test subjects. The surprising result: The self-assessment had a high predictive value in terms of the "probability of surviving or dying", according to the University of Zurich.

Lowest risk of death among optimists According to the Swiss researchers, the risk of death "increased continuously from the most optimistic to the most pessimistic". The chances of survival were by far the highest for both men and women when assessing their own health as "very good". The mortality risk was 3.3 times higher for men of the same age with "very bad" self-assessment and 1.9 times for women with "very poor" health. According to the Swiss scientists, the increased chance of survival with an optimistic self-assessment has been confirmed independently of other significant influencing factors such as education level, marital status, possible pollution from smoking, medication, chronic diseases, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. The relationship between one's own health assessment and the risk of death was only slightly weakened by the other risk factors, Bopp and colleagues write. "Smokers live longer if they are optimists," explained the study director.

Health self-assessment to predict life expectancy "The way people assess their health determines their likelihood of survival in the following decades," the University of Zurich said in the current press release. The optimistic or pessimistic assessment of one's own health is therefore a good predictor of life expectancy. "Optimism means that you have resources at your disposal that help you grow old," explained study director Matthias Bopp. The preventive medicine specialist at the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine, David Fäh, added: “The results indicate that people who consider their health as very good assess, have properties that promote and maintain their health. ”According to the expert, factors such as“ a positive attitude to life, an optimistic view of things and a basic satisfaction with one's own life ”could also play an important role here.

Earlier studies had shown that pessimistic people die earlier. So far, however, it has remained unclear whether they may be less concerned about their health or were already ill and therefore develop a negative outlook on life. With their long-term study, the researchers at the University of Zurich have also brought clarity here. The "constant increase in risk and the long duration of more than 30 years between self-assessment and the end of the observation period make it practically impossible that existing illnesses or a dark foreboding are the main causes of the observed connection," emphasized study leader Matthias Bopp.

Doctors should take patients' self-assessment into account The now confirmed connection between health self-assessment and chances of survival, according to the researchers, also supports the broad understanding of the concept of health represented by the World Health Organization (WHO). Health is not only classified as an absence of illness, but as complete physical, mental and social well-being. In addition, the self-assessment of patients on their own health should also be taken into account in medical treatments, the Swiss researchers continued. "Good doctors should not only look for the presence of risk factors or illnesses, but also check what health resources their patients have and, if necessary, promote and consolidate them," explained David Fäh. Here, the self-assessment could provide clear indications of the patient's available resources. However, increased caution should also be exercised in men who answer “I don't know” to their health condition. Because within the scope of the study, the risk of death was almost as high as that of the men who answered "very bad", explained study leader Matthias Bopp. This result is due to the fact that the men affected would actually classify their health as "bad", but do not want to admit it and therefore answer "I don't know". (fp)

Also read:
Does optimism strengthen the immune system?
Negative messages are ignored by people

Image: Bernd Boscolo / pixelio.de

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