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BACKGROUND: A number of studies provide evidence for an association between psychosocial factors and risk of incident arthritis. Current evidence is largely limited to the examination of negative factors such as perceived stress, but positive factors such as subjective wellbeing may also play a role. PURPOSE: The purpose of the current study was to investigate whether people with higher subjective wellbeing have a lower risk of developing arthritis. METHODS: We used Cox proportional hazards regression to examine the prospective relationship between wellbeing (measured using the CASP-12) and incidence of arthritis over a 9-year period. The sample consisted of 13,594 participants aged ≥50 years from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. RESULTS: There was a significant association between greater wellbeing and reduced incident arthritis that was stronger at younger ages. In sex-adjusted analyses, for a standard deviation increase in CASP-12 score, the hazard ratios (95 % confidence intervals) for incident arthritis in people aged <65 and ≥65 years were 0.73 (0.69-0.77) and 0.80 (0.77-0.85), respectively. After further adjustment for other established risk factors, these associations were attenuated but remained significant in both age groups: the fully adjusted hazard ratios were 0.82 (0.77-0.87) and 0.88 (0.82-0.95), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: These results provide evidence for an association between greater wellbeing and reduced risk of incident arthritis and, more generally, support the theory that psychosocial factors are implicated in the aetiology of this disease. Future research needs to delineate the mechanisms underlying the association between wellbeing and arthritis risk.

Original publication




Journal article


Ann behav med

Publication Date





419 - 426


Ageing, Arthritis, CASP-12, Longitudinal study, Wellbeing, Aged, Aging, Arthritis, Europe, Female, Humans, Incidence, Male, Middle Aged, Quality of Life, Risk Factors