Health and happiness among older adults: a community-based study

J Health Psychol. 2009 May;14(4):503-12. doi: 10.1177/1359105309103570.


The relationship between health and happiness was explored using a cross-sectional survey of 383 community-dwelling older adults. As a function of self-reported health, median happiness was increasing at a decreasing rate; happiness variability was decreasing at a decreasing rate. In multivariable logistic regression, lowest-quartile happiness was associated with poverty, unfavorable subjective health, debilitating pain and urinary incontinence, but not with the comorbidity count or other comorbidities. The results, robust to common method bias, suggest that subjective health measures are better predictors of happiness than objective measures are, except for conditions that disrupt daily functioning or are associated with social stigma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Alabama
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Happiness*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / psychology
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Primary Health Care
  • Urinary Incontinence / psychology


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal