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Health Psychol. 2015 Oct;34(10):1013-21. doi: 10.1037/hea0000200. Epub 2015 Jan 19.

The prospective association between positive psychological well-being and diabetes.

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Department of Psychology, Chapman University.
School of Psychology, Laval University.
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London.
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health.



Positive psychological well-being has protective associations with cardiovascular outcomes, but no studies have considered its association with diabetes. This study investigated links between well-being and incident diabetes.


At study baseline (1991-1994), 7,800 middle-aged British men and women without diabetes indicated their life satisfaction, emotional vitality, and optimism. Diabetes status was determined by self-reported physician diagnosis and oral glucose tolerance test (screen detection) at baseline and through 2002-2004. Incident diabetes was defined by physician-diagnosed and screen-detected cases combined and separately. Logistic regression estimated the odds of developing diabetes controlling for relevant covariates (e.g., demographics, depressive symptoms). Models were also stratified by gender and weight status.


There were 562 combined cases of incident diabetes during follow-up (up to 13 years). Well-being was not associated with incident diabetes for combined physician-diagnosed and screen-detected cases. However, when examining the 288 physician-diagnosed cases, life satisfaction and emotional vitality were associated with up to a 15% decrease in the odds of physician-diagnosed diabetes, controlling for demographics (results were similar with other covariates). Optimism was not associated with physician-diagnosed diabetes, and no well-being indicator was associated with screen-detected diabetes. Gender and weight status were not moderators.


Life satisfaction and emotional vitality, but not optimism, were associated with reduced risk of physician-diagnosed diabetes. These findings suggest that well-being may contribute to reducing risk of a prevalent and burdensome condition, although intervention studies are needed to confirm this. It is unclear why findings differed for physician-diagnosed versus study-screened diabetes. (PsycINFO Database Record

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