About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Optimism and Good Health

German philosopher and physician Albert Schweitzer is supposed to have said that every patient carries his or her own doctor inside. Conventional wisdom tells us that a positive attitude leads to better health, but does it really? A study published in the journal "Circulation" tries to answer that question.

A recent article in the Washington Post describes the study, which observed 97,000 women over eight years. It examined how participants' attitudes affected their health outcomes.

The study found that optimists were 9 percent less likely to develop heart disease. Participants who exhibited what the journal called "cynical hostility" were 16 percent more likely to die during the span of the study than their more positive counterparts. The question is, why? In the end, the study's authors couldn't say for sure. There are just too many variables at work.

While I can't prove that optimism always leads to good health, I do believe that better health makes people happier. And in the corporate world, that means higher productivity and lower rates of absenteeism, among other things. Viewed in that light, corporate wellness programs are not a luxury--they are a necessity.

As you read the Post article, be sure to leave your comments below. I'd love to hear your views.

1 comment:

Jim Purdy said...

There are way too many variables to draw good conclusions.

The Washington Post article quotes doctors as saying that their compliant patients are happier. Well, sure, and supermarket shoppers are happier when they get fast service, and cab passengers are happier if they don't have a cab driver with road rage.

It would be interesting to know more about the outcomes of unpleasant doctor-patient relationships -- if, for example, a patient becomes noncompliant because the patient feels the doctor isn't listening to the patient's complaints. Those patients may become unhappy and noncompliant, but is it sometimes the doctor's fault?

In other words, do unhappy DOCTORS sometimes cause bad patient outcomes?

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