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The relationship between life satisfaction and healthcare utilization: a longitudinal study

Goel V, Rosella LC, Fu L, Alberga A. Am J Prev Med. 2018; 55(2):142-50. Epub 2018 May 18.


Introduction — Studies have highlighted the importance of life satisfaction or, more generally, happiness, on health. However, there are few studies that have prospectively assessed the relationship between life satisfaction and healthcare utilization and costs.

Methods — Participants were from three national survey cycles conducted between 2005 and 2010 to future healthcare utilization up to 2015. Analysis was conducted in 2016–2017. Annual per person costs were calculated and individuals ranked. Adjusted multinomial logistic regression models were used to quantify the association between life satisfaction and being in the top 5% or top 6%–50%, compared to the bottom 50%, during follow-up.

Results — After exclusions, the study population included 85,225 adults. Increasing life dissatisfaction was associated with higher healthcare utilization and costs. In the fully adjusted model, the odds for those with the lowest level of life satisfaction being in the top 5% of healthcare costs relative to the lowest 50% is 3.05 (95% CI=1.61, 5.80). Those with the lowest life satisfaction were also at increased odds of being in the middle utilization category (6%–50%) with a significant OR=2.24 (95% CI=1.60, 3.14). All trends for increasing dissatisfaction were significant (p<0.001).

Conclusions — Life dissatisfaction was significantly associated with being a high-cost user in the future. This relationship persisted after adjustment for demographic factors, comorbidity, socioeconomic factors, and health behaviors. This study points to the importance of considering broader correlates of well-being with respect to future healthcare utilization and costs.

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