October 1, 2019
Results from a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggest that optimism is associated with a 35% lower risk of major heart complications, such as cardiac death, stroke or a heart attack, compared to the pessimists. Additionally, optimism was significantly associated with a lower risk of mortality.
This meta-analysis encompassed 15 studies that collectively included 229,391 individuals. Ten of the studies reported data on cardiovascular events and nine studies reported data on all-cause mortality.
The findings suggest that looking at life from a positive perspective is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular events and all-cause mortality. Prior research has also found a connection between optimism and less stress, healthier diet and exercise habits, and greater achievement and persistence.
While the authors recommend further studies to better understand this association, in the meantime we can seek guidance from a meta-analysis that found optimism is a teachable skill. Participants saw greater increases in their levels of optimism following interventions including meditation, mindfulness training, stress management training and cognitive behavioral therapy.
The results of this meta-analysis underscore the importance of taking a holistic view of employee health — encompassing emotional wellness in addition to physical health — when developing your organization’s health and wellness strategy.
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