Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Optimism and Health

     Bolt (2004), “optimists cope with stressful events, from dealing with unfamiliar environments to major health concerns, more effectively than pessimists” (p. 160-161). Optimists are less likely to develop and face problems and stress in life then pessimist. Optimism reinforces resistance to different problems and stress in life weather the problems and forms of stress are related to social, physical, psychological, or health concerns. Optimism reduces stress and allows one to be open-mind about positive outcomes in life. One who is optimistic is believed to have a better outlook on life in general and this can lead to a greater physical well-being of health and psychological well-being as well. A greater physical well-being of health and a greater psychological well-being can lead to a longer healthier life. Optimism also leads to greater experiences in life. The argument and belief in the peer reviewed article is that optimism directly relates to psychological well-being and well-being of health based on environmental and genetic influences.
     The article “Genetic and Environmental Influences on Optimism and its Relationship to Mental and Self-Rated Health: A Study of Aging Twins,” assists that there was not a study that looked for a relationships between mental, self-rated health, and optimism. So the expected outcome was an investigation into the contributions of environmental and genetics and how they share correlations between mental, self-rated health, and optimism, or psychological well-being, physical well-being, and optimism. This basically makes the argument that there is a relationship in some way of optimism, self-related, and mental health and environmental and genetic contributions. A community-based sample was the method used to prove this. In this sample it brought together twins numbering 3,053. The age range of the twins was between 50 to 94 years. The breakdown of this group was 501 female monozygotic (MZ), 153 male monozygotic (MZ), 274 female dizygotic (DZ), and 77 male dizygotic (DZ). As well as 242 dizygotic (DZ) twin pairs of the opposite-sex. The number of single twins was 561 and the co-twins were not allowed to join in the study.
     The multi-wave mail-out study which needed 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research Human Research Ethics Committee approved it. Consent was acknowledged by the return of said questionnaire. In this questionnaire the updated version of the Life Orientation test of pessimism and optimism also known as the (LOT-R) was used first. This test is composed of 10 items by which three pertained to assess optimism, three other items pertained to assess pessimism, and the last four items were fillers. This test was set on giving three answers either yes, do not know, or no. Scored on a three-point Likert scale, which is a psychometric scale often used in research that employs questionnaires Three questions assist pessimism, three question assist optimism, and the other four questions were the filler questions. Scores could range from 6 to 18. A higher total score proved optimism while a lower the total score proved pessimism. Mosing, Zietsch, Shekar, Wright, and Martin, (2009) stated “since self-rated health is a categorical variable, the LOT score was converted to an ordinal variable with four categories” (p. 599). One’s that scored between 0 and 13 made up 19% and were put into the fourth category. One’s who scored 14 to 15 made up 23% of the sample and were put into category three. While ones who scored 16 to 17 made up 29% were put into category two and ones who scored  18 made up 29% and were put into category one.  
     Next was 12-item version of the General Health Questionnaire or (GHQ).  Several studies showed the GHQ is a valid and reliable measure that can estimate prevalence and severity of psychological disorders. The twins needed to grade recent and present complaints as either better than usual as 0, same as usual as 1, less than usual as 2, or much less than usual as 3. The range of the final score would be between 0 and 36. The scores of 11 to 12 were typical, any scores that were above 15 showed signs of distress, and any score above higher 20 suggested severe problems and psychological distress. Mosing, Zietsch, Shekar, Wright, and Martin, (2009) stated “for consistency with the other variables, the GHQ was also analyzed as an ordinal variable, with participants scoring 0–6 (25%) assigned to category one, 7–8 (31%) to category two, 9–13 (34%) to category three, 14–36 (10%) to category four” (p. 599).
     Last was the Self-Rated Health or (SRH) for short. One’s health was determined by answering one question. Mosing, Zietsch, Shekar, Wright, and Martin, (2009) stated “How would you describe your health at present?” (p. 599). This was scored on the five-point Likert scale. The answers ranged from very good as 1, good as 2, fair as 3, poor as 4, and very poor as 5. Lundberg and Manderbacka asserts “this single SRH-question has been shown to be a highly reliable and valid measure of overall health as measured by means of other indicators in all population groups” Mosing, Zietsch, Shekar, Wright, and Martin, (2009). As well a predictor of the need for services, mortality, and correlated certainty with clinical assessments. Only a few participants were determined as rating their health as poor or very poor. So the categories of 3, 4 and 5 were made into one category. This allowed a result of 36% of the twins placed into the one or “very good” category, 46% were in the two or “good,” and 18% into the three or “fair to very poor.”
     The article and the data from it made the argument and showed how genetic influences showed an explanation of the proportion of variance in optimism, self-rated health, mental health, and the covariance between these variables. The data also indicated the often reported association between mental health, self-rated health and optimism may indeed be a result of genes predisposing to high optimism as well as predisposing to good self-rated and mental health. Therefore it can be concluded that ones who are and remain optimistic in life enjoy physical well-being of health and a psychological well-being as well.  
Bolt, M. (2004). Pursuing human strengths: A positive psychology guide. New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Mosing, M. A., Zietsch, B. P., Shekar, S. N., Wright, M. J., & Martin, N. G. (2009). Genetic and Environmental Influences on Optimism and its Relationship to Mental and Self-Rated Health: A Study of Aging Twins. Behavior Genetics, 39(6), 597-604. doi:10.1007/s10519-009-9287-7

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