Life satisfaction and use of preventive health care services

Objective: Although a growing body of research shows that life satisfaction is linked with enhanced health behaviors and physical health, no study has examined life satisfaction’s association with use of preventive health care services. From prior research the authors hypothesized that people with higher life satisfaction would be more proactive in taking care of their health, hence more likely to use preventive health care services. Method: Multiple logistic regression models were used to examine the association between life satisfaction and preventive services. Participants were drawn from the Health and Retirement Study, a prospective and nationally representative panel study of adults (age >50). Participants’ use of preventive services was collected over 2 years of follow-up. Results: In models adjusting for sociodemographic factors, each standard deviation increase in life satisfaction was associated with a higher likelihood that people would obtain a cholesterol test. Further, women with higher life satisfaction were more likely to obtain a mammogram–x-ray or pap smear and also regularly check their breasts for lumps, whereas men were more likely to obtain a prostate exam. Conclusion: Higher life satisfaction was associated with higher use of several preventive services. A growing body of randomized controlled trials targeting life satisfaction has shown that levels of life satisfaction are modifiable. Thus, if these findings are replicated, life satisfaction may provide an important target for interventions aimed at enhancing preventive behaviors and health. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)