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Objective: Positive psychological well-being has protective associations with cardiovascular outcomes, but no studies have considered its association with diabetes. This study investigated links between well-being and incident diabetes.

Methods: At study baseline (1991-1994), 7,800 middle-aged British men and women without diabetes indicated their life satisfaction, emotional vitality, and optimism. Diabetes status was determined by self-reported physician diagnosis and oral glucose tolerance test (screen detection) at baseline and through 2002-2004. Incident diabetes was defined by physician-diagnosed and screen-detected cases combined and separately. Logistic regression estimated the odds of developing diabetes controlling for relevant covariates (e.g., demographics, depressive symptoms). Models were also stratified by gender and weight status.

Results: There were 562 combined cases of incident diabetes during follow-up (up to 13 years). Well-being was not associated with incident diabetes for combined physician-diagnosed and screen-detected cases. However, when examining the 288 physician-diagnosed cases, life satisfaction (OR=0.85, 95% CI=0.76-0.95) and emotional vitality (OR=0.86, 95% CI=0.77-0.97) were associated with up to a 15% decrease in the odds of physician-diagnosed diabetes, controlling for demographics (results were similar with other covariates). Optimism was not associated with physician-diagnosed diabetes and no well-being indicator was associated with screen-detected diabetes. Gender and weight status were not moderators.

Conclusions: Life satisfaction and emotional vitality, but not optimism, were associated with reduced risk of physician-diagnosed diabetes. These findings suggest well-being may contribute to reducing risk of a prevalent and burdensome condition although intervention studies are needed to confirm this. It is unclear why findings differed for physician-diagnosed versus study-screened diabetes.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Health Psychology in 2015 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online DOI:10.1037/hea0000200.

This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record.


American Psychological Association



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