Satisfying relationships in midlife reduce the risk of chronic diseases in old age

There is increasing evidence of the relationship between the strong social networks and the good health and the welfare in middle and advanced ages. However, there are some questions about whether these connections can reduce the risk of developing multiple long-term illnesses (multimorbidity)which affect above all the older women.

The fulfilling relationships in middle age with your partner, friends or work colleagues are linked to a lower risk of accumulating multiple long-term illnesses in old age. At least, it is something that generally occurs between womenobject of study of a recent work.

one assures it investigation recently published in the open access journal General Psychiatry. The work determined that the less satisfactory these relationships, the greater the risk. The results were only partly explained by influencing factors such as income, education and health habits, according to the study.

The study

The researchers relied on 13,714 participants of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health (ALSWH), which analyzes the factors associated with the health and well-being of women aged 18-23, 45-50 and 70-75 years in nineteen ninety six. The objective was to assess to what extent the degree of satisfaction of women with their relationships (partner, family, friends, co-workers and other social connections) can influence this risk. individually and collectively.

The women in this study had between 45 and 50 years old in 1996. Their health and well-being was monitored approximately every three years using a questionnaire until 2016.

Specifically, they were asked to rate their levels of satisfaction with each of their 5 relationship categories in a 4 point scale, scoring each answer up to a maximum of 3 points. And if they had developed any of the diseases following: diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, depression, and anxiety.

The results

The final analysis included 7,694 women. 58% of these (4,484) accumulated multiple long-term conditions throughout the 20 years of follow-up. Those who did were more likely to have a lower educational level, struggle to live off their income, be overweight/obese, physically inactive, smoke, and have undergone surgically induced menopause.

In general, the satisfaction in relationships was associated with the accumulation of multiple long-term conditions. Compared with women who reported the highest level of satisfaction, those who reported the lowest had more than twice as likely of accumulating multiple long-term conditions.

According to the researchers, the strength of the association was comparable to that of well-established risk factors, such as being overweight or obese, physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol consumption. Well-established risk factors, such as socioeconomic status, health behaviors, and menopausal status, together accounted for less than a fifth of the observed association.

observational study

It’s about a observational study and, as such, can’t establish cause. Furthermore, it was based on personal memory and did not collect information on social relationships in early adulthood. Additionally, it should be noted that only in Australian women.

For this more research is requiredthey recognize. Nonetheless, they conclude that these findings “have significant implications for chronic disease management and intervention.”

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