Previous studies have shown a link between optimism and enhanced well-being, while pessimism has been shown to be a risk factor for poor physical health, said lead researcher Rosalind J. Wright, M.D., M.P.H., Instructor in Medicine at Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston. This is the first study to show such a link specifically between optimism and improved lung function over time.
Dr. Wright said that a persons outlook may somehow influence the bodys immune system processes that play a role in the airway inflammation associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
The study suggests there may be reversible factors that may have an impact on patients long-term rate of lung function decline, which has been shown to be related to a persons risk of mortality, Dr. Wright said. Preliminary studies on heart patients have suggested that through behavior modification to change a persons outlook, you can improve a persons mortality risk. Further research may show whether improving a persons outlook can lengthen life and improve the quality of life in patients with lung disease.
The study followed 670 men, the majority of whom were white, and whose average age was 63 years at the beginning of the study. They were followed for an average of eight years, and had an average of three lung
exams during that time. Men who were shown to be more optimistic according to a questionnaire derived from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) had significantly higher lung function, and a slower rate of decline in lung function compared with more
Contact: Cathy Carlomagno
American Thoracic Society