Sense of coherence, depressive symptoms, cardiovascular diseases, and all-cause mortality

Psychosom Med. 2013 May;75(4):429-35. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31828c3fa4. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


Objective: There is increasing interest in whether positive and negative psychological constructs are bipolar opposites of the same phenomenon. We examine whether a positive construct--sense of coherence (SOC)--has independent predictive power over and above depressive symptoms for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality.

Methods: Participants included 3850 men and 4083 women aged 25 to 74 years who had participated in risk factor surveys conducted in 1992 or 1997. Antonovsky's 13-item SOC scale was used to measure SOC, and had a correlation of -0.60 with the Beck Depression Inventory.

Results: During a mean follow-up time of 14.2 years, there were 670 deaths and 487 nonfatal and fatal CVD events. Higher SOC scores were associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality (relative risk [RR] = 0.90, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.84-0.97 per unit), especially among men, but this association became nonsignificant after adjustment for depressive symptoms (RR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.90-1.08). Among participants without a history of CVD, higher SOC scores were related to a lower risk for CVD (RR = 0.90, 95% CI = 0.83-0.98), but this association disappeared after adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors. Depressive symptoms remained significant predictors of CVD among women in a model including also SOC (RR = 1.24, 95% CI = 1.06-1.46).

Conclusions: SOC was related to all-cause mortality among men; the association with CVD events was modest. Measures for SOC and depressive symptoms were significantly correlated, which might result in overlap in their associations with adverse disease and mortality outcomes.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; depression; mortality; positive psychology; risk factors; sense of coherence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Anthropometry
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Physical Examination
  • Psychology
  • Self Report
  • Sense of Coherence*
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires