Looking on the bright side of life can help people survive health threats, research suggests.
A study of people with 2,400 people with angina - a heart problem that causes severe chest pain - found those with an optimistic outlook were 30 per cent less likely to require hospital treatment over nearly two years of monitoring.
Scientists are increasingly interested in the impact someone’s attitude and outlook can have on their health.
For decades medical research has focused on physical symptoms and developing drugs and procedures to deal with them.
But a growing body of evidence suggests that mood, which has largely been ignored by doctors, could have a major impact on a patient’s chance of recovery.
A study of people with 2,400 people with angina - a heart problem that causes severe chest pain - found those with an optimistic outlook were 30 per cent less likely to require hospital treatment over nearly two years of monitoring
The researchers, from Duke University in North Carolina and Columbia University in New York, asked the patients after one month, six months and 12 months how optimistic they were about the future.
Levels of optimism stayed roughly the same at each interview - with a quarter ‘most optimistic’, about two fifths ‘optimistic’, a fifth neutral and a tenth not optimistic.
The researchers found for every degree of optimism, the chances of being taken into hospital within the two-year study period dropped.
Those who were the most optimistic were about 40 per cent less likely than those who were not optimistic to require hospital.
The researchers said this was partly because the optimistic people had better health to start with.
But even when they adjusted their results to take this into account, they found there was still a 30 per cent gap between the most optimistic and the least.
Study leader Dr Alexander Fanaroff of Duke University Medical Centre said: ‘Feeling better about your disease process and ability to reengage in usual activities may actually make chronic angina easier to deal with.
‘Our findings suggest that if we can identify patients who are less optimistic for whatever reason-whether it’s because their disease has made them despair for the future, they have uncertainty about their diagnosis, or they have multiple comorbidities-and help them feel more hopeful by focusing on what they can do, we may be able to