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Wellbeing and chronic disease incidence: the English longitudinal study of ageing

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-355
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


Background: Previous research suggests that greater wellbeing may protect against onset of chronic disease. However, it is unclear whether this association is similar across different types of disease. Method: We used Cox proportional hazards regression to examine the prospective relationship between wellbeing (measured using the CASP-19) and incidence of arthritis, cancer, stroke, diabetes, heart attack and chronic lung disease over 8 years. The sample consisted of 8,182 participants aged ≥50 from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). Results: After adjusting for established risk factors, a standard deviation increase in CASP-19 score was associated with a decrease in arthritis risk (HR: 0.89; 95% CI: 0.83-0.96) and, in those aged <65, a decrease in diabetes risk (HR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.70-0.95) and chronic lung disease risk (HR: 0.80; 95% CI: 0.66-0.97). Higher CASP-19 scores were associated with reduced risk for stroke and heart attack; however, these associations were no longer significant after adjusting for established risk factors. No association was observed for cancer incidence. An age interaction was observed for diabetes, heart attack and chronic lung disease, with a stronger association between CASP-19 score and disease incidence at younger ages. Conclusion: The extent of association between wellbeing and incident disease risk is not consistent across different chronic diseases. Future studies should examine the cause of this variation.

    Research areas

  • CASP-19, chronic disease, wellbeing, ageing

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