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Int J Psychiatry Med. 2010;40(2):125-46.

A 7-year prospective study of sense of humor and mortality in an adult county population: the HUNT-2 study.

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The Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway.



To prospectively explore the significance of sense of humor for survival over 7 years in an adult county population.


Residents in the county of Nord-Tr√łndelag, Norway, aged 20 and older, were invited to take part in a public health survey during 1995-97 (HUNT-2), and 66,140 (71.2 %) participated. Sense of humor was estimated by responses to a cognitive (N = 53,546), social (N = 52,198), and affective (N = 53,132) item, respectively, taken from the Sense of Humor Questionnaire (SHQ). Sum scores were tested by Cox survival regression analyses applied to gender, age, and subjective health.


Hazard ratios were reduced with sense of humor (continuous scale: HR = 0.73; high versus low by median split: HR = 0.50) as contrasted with increase of HR with a number of classical risk factors (e.g., cardiovascular disease: HR = 6.28; diabetes: HR = 4.86; cancer: HR = 4.18; poor subjective health: HR = 2.89). Gender proved to be of trivial importance to the effect of sense of humor in survival. Subjective health correlated positively with sense of humor and therefore might have presented a spurious relation of survival with humor, but sense of humor proved to reduce HR both in individuals with poor and good subjective health. However, above age 65 the effect of sense of humor on survival became less evident.


Sense of humor appeared to increase the probability of survival into retirement, and this effect appeared independent of subjective health. Age under 65 mediated this effect, whereas it disappeared beyond this age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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