A recent study lead by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers discovered that higher levels of optimism were connected with a longer lifespan and living above the age of 90 in women of all races and ethnicities.
The findings were reported in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. “Although optimism may be affected by social structural factors such as race and ethnicity, our research suggests that the benefits of optimism may hold across diverse groups,” said Hayami Koga, the study’s lead author and a PhD candidate in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard Chan School.
“Much earlier research has concentrated on deficiencies or risk factors that raise the likelihood of illness and untimely mortality. Our findings imply that concentrating on positive psychological characteristics, such as optimism, might be beneficial in increasing lifespan and good ageing across varied ethnicities.”
Prior Study on Optimism
In a prior study, the researchers discovered that optimism was associated with a longer lifetime and exceptional longevity, which was defined as surviving above the age of 85. Because the previous study focused mostly on white people, Koga and her colleagues expanded the participant pool in the present study to include women of all races and ethnicities.
According to Koga, incorporating diverse people in research is vital for public health since these groups have higher death rates than white populations and there is less study on them to guide health policy decisions.
The researchers reviewed data and survey responses from 159,255 Women’s Health Initiative participants, who comprised postmenopausal women in the United States, for this study. The ladies were enrolled between the ages of 50 and 79 from 1993 to 1998 and were tracked for up to 26 years.
The people who were the most optimistic had a 5.4 percent longer lifetime and a 10% larger probability of living beyond 90 years than the ones who were the least optimistic.
The researchers also discovered no association between optimism and any racial or ethnicity category, and these results held true after controlling for demographics, chronic illnesses, and depression. Regular exercise and good diet accounted for less than a quarter of the optimism-lifespan connection, indicating that additional variables may be at work.
According to Koga, the study’s findings might change how individuals think about health-related decisions.
“We have a tendency to focus on the negative risk factors that impact our health,” Koga added. “It is also crucial to include positive resources like as optimism that may be helpful to our health, particularly if these advantages are shown across racial and ethnic groups.”
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