Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 652–664 | Cite as

Is waiting bad for subjective health?

  • Jennifer L. HowellEmail author
  • Kate Sweeny


The present study examined the possibility that waiting is bad for one’s subjective health. Specifically, we examined longitudinal trends in the self-reported health, self-reported sleep disruption, distress, and emotion regulation strategies of law school graduates waiting for their bar exam results. Multilevel analyses suggest that waiting was particularly detrimental to participants’ self-reported health and sleep disruption at the beginning and end of the waiting period. Moreover, distress and most emotion regulation efforts were associated with poorer subjective health on average, and personal increases in distress and emotion regulation were largely associated with personal increases in poor self-reported health and sleep disruption. Our results suggest that waiting periods can take a toll on subjective health and that individual and temporal variations in distress and emotion regulation efforts are associated with these health trajectories.


Waiting Uncertainty Emotion regulation Well-being Sleep Subjective health 



This material is based on work supported by a grant to the second author from the National Science Foundation under Grant Number BCS-1251672 and by a National Science Foundation Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Jennifer L. Howell and Kate Sweeny declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures followed were in accordance with ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOhio UniversityAthensUSA
  2. 2.University of California, RiversideRiversideUSA

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