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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5185104, 9 pages
Research Article

Optimism and Mortality in Older Men and Women: The Rancho Bernardo Study

1Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0628, USA
2Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182, USA

Received 20 August 2015; Revised 13 January 2016; Accepted 26 January 2016

Academic Editor: Barbara Shukitt-Hale

Copyright © 2016 Ericha G. Anthony 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.


Purpose. To examine the associations of optimism and pessimism with all-cause, cardiovascular disease (CVD), coronary heart disease (CHD), and cancer mortality in a population-based sample of older men and women followed ≤12 years. Methods. 367 men and 509 women aged ≥50 from the Rancho Bernardo Study attended a 1999–2002 research clinic visit when demographic, behavioral, and medical history were obtained and completed a 1999 mailed survey including the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R). Mortality outcomes were followed through 2012. Results. Average age at baseline was 74.1 years; during follow-up (mean = 8.1 years), 198 participants died, 62 from CVD, 22 from CHD, and 49 from cancer. Total LOT-R, optimism and pessimism scores were calculated. Participants with the highest optimism were younger and reported less alcohol use and smoking and more exercise. Cox proportional hazard models showed that higher total LOT-R and optimism, but not pessimism scores, were associated with reduced odds of CHD mortality after adjusting for age, sex, alcohol, smoking, obesity, physical exercise, and medication (HR = 0.86, 95% CI = 0.75, 0.99; HR = 0.77, 95% CI = 0.61, 0.99, resp.). No associations were found for all-cause, CVD, or cancer mortality. Conclusions. Optimism was associated with reduced CHD mortality in older men and women. The association of positive attitudes with mortality merits further study.