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Momentary Positive Affect Tied to Improved Survival

High positive affect measured over a single day predicts long-term survival in women, older men

MONDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Positive affect (PA) is associated with survival, with high PA linked to considerably improved survival in older men and women, according to a study published online Oct. 31 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Andrew Steptoe, Ph.D., and Jane Wardle, Ph.D., from University College London, investigated the association between PA and survival in a cohort of 3,853 men and women aged 52 to 79 years. Participants who completed ecological momentary assessment over a 24-hour period were included and followed up for an average of five years. Affect measures were obtained at four time points in a day. At each time, participants self-rated the extent to which they felt happy, excited, content (positive affect), or worried, anxious, and fearful (negative affect) on a four-point scale from one (not at all) to four (extremely).

The investigators found that participants in the lowest, medium, and highest third of PA had death rates of 7.3, 4.6, and 3.6 percent, respectively. Compared with the low-PA group, the age- and sex-adjusted hazard ratio for high-PA participants was 0.498, which was attenuated to 0.646 on adjusting for demographic factors, negative affect, depressed mood, health indicators, and health behaviors. Negative affect and depressed mood showed no association with survival following adjustment for covariates.

"These findings indicate that experienced PA, even over a single day, has a graded relationship with survival that is not caused by baseline health status or other covariates," the authors write.

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