Are people healthier if their partners are more optimistic? The dyadic effect of optimism on health among older adults

TitleAre people healthier if their partners are more optimistic? The dyadic effect of optimism on health among older adults
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsKim, ES, Chopik, WJ, Smith, J
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume76
Issue6
Pagination447-453
KeywordsHealth Conditions and Status, Healthcare, Other
Abstract

Objective Optimism has been linked with an array of positive health outcomes at the individual level. However, researchers have not examined how a spouse's optimism might impact an individual's health. We hypothesized that being optimistic (and having an optimistic spouse) would both be associated with better health. Methods Participants were 3940 adults (1970 couples) from the Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative panel study of American adults over the age of 50. Participants were tracked for four years and outcomes included: physical functioning, self-rated health, and number of chronic illnesses. We analyzed the dyadic data using the actor partner interdependence model. Results After controlling for several psychological and demographic factors, a person's own optimism and their spouse's optimism predicted better self-rated health and physical functioning (bs = .08 .25, ps .01). More optimistic people also reported better physical functioning (b = .11, p .01) and fewer chronic illnesses (b = .01, p .05) over time. Further, having an optimistic spouse uniquely predicted better physical functioning (b = .09, p .01) and fewer chronic illnesses (b = .01, p .05) over time. The strength of the relationship between optimism and health did not diminish over time. Conclusions Being optimistic and having an optimistic spouse were both associated with better health. Examining partner effects is important because such analyses reveal the unique role that spouses play in promoting health. These findings may have important implications for future health interventions.

URLhttp://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022399914001731
DOI10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.03.104
Endnote Keywords

Optimism/Optimism/Aging/Relationships/Successful aging/Positive psychology/Psychological well-being

Endnote ID

999999

Citation Key8009
PubMed ID24840138
PubMed Central IDPMC4610812