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Ann Behav Med. 2019 Jun 4;53(7):665-673. doi: 10.1093/abm/kay075.

Is It Good To Be Good? Dispositional Compassion and Health Behaviors.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.
2
LIKES - Research Centre for Physical Activity and Health, Jyväskylä, Finland.
3
Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.
4
Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories and Finnish Cardiovascular Research Center-Tampere, Faculty of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.
5
Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland.
6
Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.
7
Unit of Psychology, Faculty of Education, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite the documented importance of dispositional compassions for a range of health-related outcomes, its role in predicting health behaviors remains unclear.

PURPOSE:

This study examined the associations between dispositional compassion and three domains of health behavior, including physical activity, alcohol use, and smoking.

METHODS:

The participants (N = 1,279-1,913) were from the Finnish population-based Young Finns study. We collected self-reports of compassion in 1997 and 2011 and health behaviors in 2001, 2007, and 2011. In addition, an objective pedometer measure of physical activity was collected in 2011. Linear and logistic regression models were fitted to estimate the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between compassion and the health behavior outcomes.

RESULTS:

In a cross-sectional analysis, compassion was associated with having never smoked and a reduced likelihood of at-risk alcohol use and binge drinking. There was no robust association between compassion and physical activity. In longitudinal analyses over a 14-year period, the associations remained for at-risk alcohol use and binge drinking.

CONCLUSIONS:

Dispositional compassion may have a protective effect against unhealthy behaviors, especially excessive alcohol consumption.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol consumption; Compassion; Health behaviors; Physical activity; Smoking

PMID:
30256889
DOI:
10.1093/abm/kay075

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