Posted on Mar 18, 2016, 6 a.m.
Greater life satisfaction may reduce the risk of death, among older men and women.
Life satisfaction is how a person evaluates their present life circumstances, and how they feel about the future. Julia K. Boehm, from Chapman University (California, USA), and colleagues completed a nine-year-long study in which 4458 Australian men and women, ages 50 years and older, who were asked the question: "all things considered, how satisfied are you with your life?" each year of the study period. Responses ranged from zero to 10, with 10 indicating greater life satisfaction. The researchers assessed both average life satisfaction across time and the variability in life satisfaction across time. Other factors accounted for in the study included age, gender, education, health conditions, smoking status, physical activity, and depressive symptoms. Over the course of the study, the researchers learned that as participants' life satisfaction increased, the risk of mortality was reduced by 18%. By contrast, greater variability in life satisfaction was associated with a 20% increased risk of mortality. In combination, individuals with high levels of life satisfaction tended to have reduced risk of mortality regardless of how their life satisfaction varied over time. The study authors write that: "In combination with mean life satisfaction, variability in life satisfaction is relevant for mortality risk among older adults.”
Julia K. Boehm, Ashley Winning, Suzanne Segerstrom, Laura D. Kubzansky. “Variability Modifies Life Satisfaction’s Association With Mortality Risk in Older Adults,” Psychological Science, June 5, 2015.