Low conscientiousness and risk of all-cause, cardiovascular and cancer mortality over 17years: Whitehall II cohort study
Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 06/20/2012
Hagger–Johnson G et al. – Low conscientiousness in midlife is a risk factor for all–cause mortality. This association is only partly explained by health behaviours, socio–economic status (SES), cardiovascular disease risk factors and minor psychiatric morbidity in midlife.Methods
- Participants in the Whitehall II cohort study (N=6800, aged 34 to 55 at recruitment in 1985) completed two self–reported items measuring conscientiousness in 1991–1993 (‘I am overly conscientious’ and ‘I am overly perfectionistic’, Cronbach's (alpha)=.72), the baseline for this study.
- Age, socio–economic status (SES), social support, health behaviours, physiological variables and minor psychiatric morbidity were also recorded at baseline.
- The vital status of participants was then monitored for a mean of 17years.
- All–cause and cause–specific mortality was ascertained through linkage to a national mortality register until January 2010.
- Each 1standard deviation decrease in conscientiousness was associated with a 10% increase in all–cause (hazard ratio [HR]=1.10, 95% CI 1.003, 1.20) mortality.
- Patterns were similar for cardiovascular (HR=1.17, 95% CI 0.98, 1.39) and cancer mortality (HR=1.10, 95% CI 0.96, 1.25), not reaching statistical significance.
- The association with all–cause mortality was attenuated by 5% after adjustment for SES, 13% for health behaviours, 14% for cardiovascular risk factors, 5% for minor psychiatric morbidity, 29% for all variables.
- Repeating analyses with each item separately and excluding participants who died within five years of personality assessment did not change the results materially.