The purpose of this study is to investigate the value of life orientation as a screening tool and survival indicator in old age. A postal questionnaire answered by 2490 random older people (>75 years) included six questions concerning satisfaction with life, feeling needed, plans for future, zest for life, lack of feelings of depression and loneliness. The vital status was followed for 57 months. All-cause mortality rate was 19.1% and 30.3% among elderly with (22%) and without (78%) positive life orientation, respectively (p<0.001). The difference in mortality increased over time. After controlling for age, gender, and subjective health, the protective value of positive life orientation remained significant (hazard ratio, HR=0.78, 95%CI=0.63-0.98, p<0.03). Feeling needed was the strongest independent predictor (HR=0.72, p<0.001). A six-question life orientation identifies old people at risk. Positive life orientation predicts good survival prognosis independently of subjective health.
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