About this Journal Submit a Manuscript Table of Contents
Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 896109, 10 pages
Research Article

Do Stress Trajectories Predict Mortality in Older Men? Longitudinal Findings from the VA Normative Aging Study

1Human Development & Family Sciences, School of Social & Behavioral Health Sciences, College of Public Health & Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Milam Hall, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
2Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Imperial College School of Medicine, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, UK
3Normative Aging Study, VA Boston Healthcare System (151MAV), 150 South Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02130, USA
4Departments of Epidemiology and Psychiatry, Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine, 715 Albany Street T 3E, Boston, MA 02118, USA

Received 16 March 2011; Accepted 8 June 2011

Academic Editor: Leonard W. Poon

Copyright © 2011 Carolyn M. Aldwin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We examined long-term patterns of stressful life events (SLE) and their impact on mortality contrasting two theoretical models: allostatic load (linear relationship) and hormesis (inverted U relationship) in 1443 NAS men (aged 41–87 in 1985; M = 60.30, SD = 7.3) with at least two reports of SLEs over 18 years (total observations = 7,634). Using a zero-inflated Poisson growth mixture model, we identified four patterns of SLE trajectories, three showing linear decreases over time with low, medium, and high intercepts, respectively, and one an inverted U, peaking at age 70. Repeating the analysis omitting two health-related SLEs yielded only the first three linear patterns. Compared to the low-stress group, both the moderate and the high-stress groups showed excess mortality, controlling for demographics and health behavior habits, HRs = 1.42 and 1.37, 𝑝 s < . 0 1 and < . 0 5 . The relationship between stress trajectories and mortality was complex and not easily explained by either theoretical model.