Stressful life-events exposure is associated with 17-year mortality, but it is health-related events that prove predictive



Phillips AC, Der G & Carroll D (2008) Stressful life-events exposure is associated with 17-year mortality, but it is health-related events that prove predictive. British Journal of Health Psychology, 13 (4), pp. 647-657.

Objectives. Despite the widely-held view that psychological stress is amajor cause of poor health, few studies have examined the relationship between stressful life-events exposure and death. The present analyses examined the association between overall life-events stress load, health-related and health-unrelated stress, and subsequent all-cause mortality. Design. This study employed ap rospective longitudinal design incorporating time-varying covariates. Methods. Participants were9 68 Scottish men and women who were5 6y ears old. Stressful life-events experience for the preceding 2yearswas assessed at baseline, 8-9 yearsand 12-13 years later.Mortality was tracked for the subsequent 17 years during which time 266 participants had died. Cox'sr egression models with time-varying covariates were applied. We adjusted for sex, occupational status, smoking, BMI, and systolic blood pressure. Results. Overall life-events numbers and their impact scores at the time of exposure and the time of assessment werea ssociated with 17-year mortality.H ealth-related event numbers and impact scores weres trongly predictiveo fm ortality.T his was not the case for health-unrelated events. Conclusions. The frequency of life-events and the stress load they imposed were associated with all-cause mortality.H owever, it was the experience and impact of health-related, not health-unrelated, events that proved predictive. This reinforces the need to disaggregatet hese two classes of exposures in studies of stress and health outcomes.

British Journal of Health Psychology: Volume 13, Issue 4

FundersMedical Research Council and University of Birmingham
Publication date30/11/2008
Publication date online24/12/2010

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Professor Anna Whittaker

Professor Anna Whittaker

Professor of Behavioural Medicine, Sport