Week+4+required+Rasmussen++2009++optimism+and+physical+health

Week+4+required+Rasmussen++2009++optimism+and+physical+health

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE Optimism and Physical Health: A Meta-analytic Review Heather N. Rasmussen, Ph.D. & Michael F. Scheier, Ph.D. & Joel B. Greenhouse, Ph.D. # The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2009 Abstract Background Prior research links optimism to physical health, but the strength of the association has not been systematically evaluated. Purpose The purpose of this study is to conduct a meta- analytic review to determine the strength of the association between optimism and physical health. Methods The findings from 83 studies, with 108 effect sizes (ESs), were included in the analyses, using random- effects models. Results Overall, the mean ES characterizing the relation- ship between optimism and physical health outcomes was 0.17, p <.001. ESs were larger for studies using subjective (versus objective) measures of physical health. Subsidiary analyses were also conducted grouping studies into those that focused solely on mortality, survival, cardiovascular outcomes, physiological markers (including immune function), immune function only, cancer outcomes, outcomes related to pregnancy, physical symptoms, or pain. In each case, optimism was a significant predictor of health outcomes or markers, all p <.001. Conclusions Optimism is a significant predictor of positive physical health outcomes. Keywords Optimism . Physical health . Expectancies . Quantitative review Introduction Interest in the relationship between personality character- istics and physical health has increased substantially over the past several decades. Within this larger framework, a number of studies have explored the link between dispositional optimism (the generalized expectation that good things will happen) and physical well-being. Many of these studies have shown optimism to be protective. For example, research shows that optimistic people, compared to those more pessimistic in outlook, report less pain [ 1 4 ], better physical functioning [ 5 8 ], experi- ence fewer physical symptoms [ 6 , 8 12 ], and are less likely to be rehospitalized following coronary artery bypass surgery [ 13 ]. Although research on optimism and health has flour- ished, there has been no systematic review, qualitative or quantitative, of this specific literature. Thus, the nature of the association between optimism and physical health has not been explicitly assessed. This is an important oversight inasmuch as not all studies report significant associations (e.g., [ 14 ]). The purpose of the present paper is to provide a quantitative, meta-analytic review of the research exploring links between dispositional optimism and physical health. Two other recent reviews are relevant here. First, Pressman and Cohen [ 15 ] provided a qualitative review of the literature linking positive affect to health. Although positive affect and optimism are related constructs, they are not the same [ 15 , 16 ]. Thus, the focus of the review by H. N. Rasmussen Institute for Educational Research and Public Service, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA M. F. Scheier ( * ) : J. B. Greenhouse Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA e-mail: [email protected]
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