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Anticipated Survival and Health Behaviours in Older English Adults: Cross Sectional and Longitudinal Analysis of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jean Adams, Elaine Stamp, Professor Daniel Nettle, Emeritus Professor Eugene Milne, Emerita Professor Carol Jagger



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


BackgroundIndividuals may make a rational decision not to engage in healthy behaviours based on their assessment of the benefits of such behaviours to them, compared to other uncontrollable threats to their health. Anticipated survival is one marker of perceived uncontrollable threats to health. We hypothesised that greater anticipated survival: a) is cross-sectionally associated with healthier patterns of behaviours; b) increases the probability that behaviours will be healthier at follow up than at baseline; and c) decreases the probability that behaviours will be 'less healthy' at follow than at baseline.MethodsData from waves 1 and 5 of the English Longitudinal Survey of Ageing provided 8 years of follow up. Perceptions of uncontrollable threats to health at baseline were measured using anticipated survival. Health behaviours considered were self-reported cigarette smoking, physical activity level, and frequency of alcohol consumption. A wide range of socio-economic, demographic, and health variables were adjusted for.ResultsGreater anticipated survival was cross-sectionally associated with lower likelihood of smoking, and higher physical activity levels, but was not associated with alcohol consumption. Lower anticipated survival was associated with decreased probability of adopting healthier patterns of physical activity, and increased probability of becoming a smoker at follow up. There were no associations between anticipated survival and change in alcohol consumption.ConclusionsOur hypotheses were partially confirmed, though associations were inconsistent across behaviours and absent for alcohol consumption. Individual assessments of uncontrollable threats to health may be an important determinant of smoking and physical activity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Adams J, Stamp E, Nettle D, Milne EMG, Jagger C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2015

Volume: 10

Issue: 3

Online publication date: 23/03/2015

Acceptance date: 22/01/2015

Date deposited: 18/08/2015

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118782


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