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Trust, happiness and mortality: Findings from a prospective US population-based survey

Author:
  • Alexander Miething
  • Jan Mewes
  • Giuseppe Nicola Giordano
Publishing year: 2020
Language: English
Publication/Series: Social Science & Medicine
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Elsevier

Abstract english

There has been an abundance of research discussing the health implications of generalised trust and happiness over the past two decades. Both attitudes have been touted as independent predictors of morbidity and mortality, with strikingly similar trajectories and biological pathways being hypothesised. To date, however, neither trust nor happiness have been considered simultaneously as predictors of mortality. This study, therefore, aims to investigate the effects of generalised trust and happiness on all-cause and cause-specific mortality. The distinction between different causes of death (i.e. cardiovascular vs. cancer-related mortality) allowed us to assess if psychosocial mechanisms could account for associations between generalised trust, happiness and mortality. The study sample was derived from US General Social Survey data from 1978 to 2010 (response rates ranged from 70 to 82 per cent), and combined with death records from the National Death Index. The analytical sample comprised 23,933 individuals with 5382 validated deaths from all-cause mortality by 2014. Analyses were performed with Cox regression models and competing-risk models. In final models, generalised trust, but not happiness, showed robust and independent associations with all-cause mortality. Regarding cause-specific mortality, trust only showed a significant relationship with cardiovascular mortality. The distinct patterns of association between generalised trust and all-cause/cause-specific mortality suggest that their relationship could be being driven by cardiovascular mortality. In turn, this supports the feasibility of psychosocial pathways as possible biological mechanisms from distrust to mortality.

Keywords

  • Sociology (excluding Social Work, Social Psychology and Social Anthropology)
  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology

Other

Epub
  • Three Worlds of Trust: A Longitudinal Study of Welfare States, Life-Course Risks, and Social Trust
  • Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology
Photo of Jan Mewes by Emma Lord.
E-mail: jan [dot] mewes [at] soc [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Sociology

31

Department of Sociology
Lund University
Visiting address: Sandgatan 11, House G, Lund
Postal address: Box 114 , SE-221 00 LUND, SWEDEN
Telephone: Student Office +46 46-222 88 44, Lund University Switchboard +46 46-222 00 00

Faculty of Social Sciences