The health benefits of optimism

Dr. Laura Kubzansky, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, recently spoke with Communications’ Amy Roeder in the latest edition of The Big 3. In the interview, she speaks about her recent study where she and her co-authors have associated optimism with lowered hypertension.

Dr. Kubzansky and others analyzed 103,486 global assessment tool (GAT) responses, a self-report questionnaire assessing psychosocial functioning, from relatively young and healthy U.S. Army active-duty soldiers. People in the military tend to be more susceptible to early-onset hypertension due to combat exposure and other stressors.

“We found that those who tested highest for optimism at the start of the study had a 22% lower risk of developing hypertension during three-and-a-half years of follow-up than those who scored the lowest,” says Dr. Kubzansky. “It was striking to see that much of a protective effect—and also that the finding held for both women and men, and across racial and ethnic groups.”

Other SBS-affiliated coauthors in the study include Claudia Trudel-Fitzgerald, Research Scientist, and Hayami K. Koga, PHS-PhD ’22.

Read the full interview.

Read the study.

Quotation edited for brevity.