Cognitive hostility predicts all-cause mortality irrespective of behavioural risk at late middle and older age

Eur J Public Health. 2013 Aug;23(4):701-5. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/cks060. Epub 2012 Jun 8.


Background: Most but not all evidence supports hostility-related attributes to increase mortality risk. However, studies usually include single attributes, their effects have been studied predominantly in younger populations, and behavioural pathways explaining the mortality effect seem to differ by age. We examined the relationship between all-cause mortality and cognitive hostility, anger, aggression and rebelliousness, and their independence of health behaviours in a late middle-aged and older population.

Methods: Data were derived from the longitudinal Dutch Study of Medical Information and Lifestyles in the city of Eindhoven, in the Southeast of the Netherlands study among 2679 late middle-aged and older Dutch people. Psychological characteristics were self-reported in 2004/2005, and mortality was monitored from 2005 to 2010. Cox regression analyses were used to calculate the mortality risk by each unique psychological variable with additional adjustments for the other psychological variables and for health behaviours. Baseline adjustments included age, sex, educational level and prevalent morbidity.

Results: Cognitive hostility was associated with all-cause mortality, independent of health behaviours (on a scale ranging from 6 to 30, the hazard ratio (HR) was 1.05; 95% confidence interval [95% CI): 1.01-1.09]. Anger, aggression and rebelliousness were not associated with mortality risk.

Conclusions: In diminishing excess mortality risks, hostile cognitions might be acknowledged separately and additionally to the risk posed by unhealthy lifestyles.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aggression
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Anger
  • Cause of Death / trends*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Hostility*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Report
  • Smoking / adverse effects