Having a positive attitude and achieving milestones—like getting married, or graduating from university—are linked to a lower chance of dying, according to Christopher Jacobi of the University of Oxford.
According to Jacobi’s study, which was recently presented at the British Sociological Association’s Medical Sociology conference in Birmingham, people with a positive mental state have a lower chance of dying. The study, although promising, requires a longer follow-up analysis to determine the long-term effects.
Jacobi studied the medical records of 28,662 people in the UK to figure out whether their chances of dying were linked to their mental health. He found that those who scored in the top sixth group of scores for positive mental health had a reduced risk of dying that was 18% lower in the four years after the study.
Jacobi said that the significance of this effect was comparable to that of getting married or earning a degree.
In his research, he discovered physical health and income did not have the same effects, and that mental health, education, and marriage were better indicators of the risk of death. Jacobi expected that physical fitness, age, and income would all indicate a higher risk of death.
“The results indicate that better positive mental health seems to have a somewhat protective effect against mortality,” Jacobi told the conference.
“In research literature the most frequently stated ways in which positive mental health is likely to affect mortality are via direct physiological responses such as lowered blood pressure, capacity to cope with stress, less drinking and smoking, an active lifestyle, and better sleep quality,” he added.
What This Means
As reported in Jacobi’s study, a positive mindset and an active lifestyle can actually help reduce the risk of dying.
Trueman, T., “Being positive linked to lower chance of dying, study says,” British Sociological Association web site, Sept 8 2016; https://www.britsoc.co.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2016/september/being-positive-linked-to-lower-chance-of-dying-study-says/