Attitude Found to Correlate to Long-Term Health

If you’ve ever been to the doctor, you surely are familiar with the questionnaires given to you when you first arrive – those which ask about your medical history, medications, and any current health issues. Some questionnaires even ask you to rate your own health, a seemingly subjective question. Researchers at The University of Zurich have noted that how you answer this question is actually a good indication of your probability of survival and death. Depending on your attitude, you may or may not have a more likely chance of getting sick and surviving (or not surviving) illness. People who rate their health as poor have an overall unhealthier lifestyle than those who rate it higher.


The researchers from the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Zurich found with a recent study, that your attitude and opinion toward your own health can determine long-term issues as well as immediate and short term health. Your self-rated health can be linked to the probability of survival or death over a period of more than thirty years.

According to the study, men who rated their health as “very poor” were found to be 3.3 times more likely to die of illness than men of the same age who gave themselves an “excellent” rating. For women, those who identified their health as “very poor” were 1.9 times more likely to die from illness than those who said it was “excellent”. Environmental factors and lifestyle choices were also taken into consideration – education level, marital status, smoking, blood pressure and glucose levels – yet these risk factors only had a small effect on the correlation between health rating and mortality levels.

“Our results indicate that people who rate their state of health as excellent have attributes that improve and sustain their health,” says Dr. David Fäh, a doctor, scientist and lecturer at the University of Zurich, “these might include a positive attitude, an optimistic outlook and a fundamental level of satisfaction with one’s own life.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has long suggested that health is the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of a person, not just the presence or absence of disease. Positive attitudes towards our health and optimism in life canshutterstock_31247794certainly influence our susceptibility to illness, recovery likelihood and time, and stress levels.

The Mayo Clinic points out that positive thinking can have various health benefits including:

  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

The lesson? Try to stay positive – think of the best case scenario rather than the worst. Of course, we can’t always be thrilled about what is going on in our lives, especially during difficult times or when challenges arise – but making an effort to keep in mind that a good attitude makes it easier to get through illness or stress and surrounding yourself with positive people and healthy habits – can make the process a little easier.

For more information and contacts on the research done in Zurich, visit EurekAlert.

Survey Image via Shutterstock

Chalkboard Image via Shutterstock

by Sara Stefanski

No comments yet.

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>