Optimism has been linked to better physical health across various outcomes, including greater longevity. However, most evidence is from Western populations, leaving it unclear whether these relationships may generalize to other cultural backgrounds. Using secondary data analysis, we evaluated the associations of optimism among older Japanese adults. Data were from a nationwide cohort study of Japanese older adults aged ≥ 65 years (Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study; n = 10,472). In 2010, optimism and relevant covariates (i.e., sociodemographic factors, physical health conditions, depressive symptoms, and health behaviors) were self-reported. Optimism was measured using the Japanese version of the Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R). Lifespan was determined using mortality information from the public long-term care insurance database through 2017 (7-year follow-up). Accelerated failure time models examined optimism (quintiles or standardized continuous scores) in relation to percent differences in lifespan. Potential effect modification by gender, income, and education was also investigated. Overall, 733 individuals (7%) died during the follow-up period. Neither continuous nor categorical levels of optimism were associated with lifespan after progressive adjustment for covariates (e.g., in fully-adjusted models: percent differences in lifespan per 1-SD increase in continuous optimism scores = − 1.2%, 95%CI − 3.4, 1.1 higher versus lower optimism quintiles = − 4.1%, 95%CI − 11.2, 3.6). The association between optimism and lifespan was null across all sociodemographic strata as well. Contrary to the existing evidence from Western populations, optimism was unrelated to longevity among Japanese older adults. The association between optimism, as evaluated by the LOT-R, and longevity may differ across cultural contexts.
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The dataset supporting the conclusions of this article is available in response to the request from the researchers admitted by the JAGES committee.
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We are extremely grateful to all JAGES study participants for the use of their personal data, as well as to everyone who participated and cooperated in the survey. In addition, we thank Dr. Ichiro Kawachi for providing comments on a prior version of this manuscript.
This study used data from JAGES (the Japan Gerontological Evaluation Study). This study was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research [15H01972, 15H04781, 15H05059, 15K03417, 15K03982, 15K16181, 15K17232, 15K18174, 15K19241, 15K21266, 15KT0007, 15KT0097, 16KK0059, 16H05556, 16K09122, 16K00913, 16K02025, 16K12964, 16K13443, 16K16295, 16K16595, 16K16633, 16K17256, 16K17281, 16K19247, 16K19267, 16K21461, 16K21465, 16KT0014, 17K04305,17K34567, 17K04306, 25253052, 25713027, 26285138, 26460828, 26780328, 18H03018, 18H04071, 18H03047, 18H00953, 18H00955, 18KK0057, 19H03901, 19H03915, 19H03860, 19K04785, 19K10641,19K11657,19K19818, 19K19455, 19K24060, 19K20909, 20H00557] from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science); Health Labour Sciences Research Grants [H26-Choju-Ippan-006, H27-Ninchisyou-Ippan-001 H28- Choju-Ippan-002, H28- Ninchisyou-Ippan-002, H29-Chikyukibo-Ippan-001, H30-Jyunkankinado-Ippan-004, 18H04071, 19FA1012, 19FA2001] from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan; the Research and Development Grants for Longevity Science from Japan Agency for Medical Research and development (AMED] [JP17dk0110027, JP18dk0110027, JP18ls0110002, JP18le0110009, JP20dk0110034, JP20dk0110037], the Research Funding for Longevity Sciences from National Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology [24-17, 24-23, 29-42, 30-30, 30-22, 20-19]; Open Innovation Platform with Enterprises, Research Institute and Academia [OPERA, JPMJOP1831] from the Japan Science and Technology (JST); a grant from the Japan Foundation For Aging And Health[J09KF00804, a grant from Innovative Research Program on Suicide Countermeasures (1-4), a grant from Sasakawa Sports Foundation, a grant from Japan Health Promotion & Fitness Foundation, a grant from Chiba Foundation for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention, the 8020 Research Grant for fiscal 2019 from the 8020 Promotion Foundation [Adopted Number: 19-2-06], a grant from Niimi University , grants from Meiji Yasuda Life Foundation of Health and Welfare. Dr. Trudel-Fitzgerald is supported by a salary support from the Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness. Lastly, this study is supported by the National Institutes of Health [R01-AG053273]. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the respective funding organizations.
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Okuzono, S.S., Shiba, K., Lee, H.H. et al. Optimism and Longevity Among Japanese Older Adults. J Happiness Stud 23, 2581–2595 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-022-00511-8