The longitudinal impact of a chronic physical health condition on subjective well-being

Health Psychol. 2021 Jun;40(6):357-367. doi: 10.1037/hea0001090.


Objective: Chronic health conditions (CHC) can have severe impacts on an individual's life, affecting well-being and mental health. Nonetheless, individuals can show different response patterns of psychological adaptation following a CHC onset. This study aimed to identify profiles of subjective well-being (SWB) at 1 year before (T - 1), 1 year after (T + 1), and 4 years after (T + 4) the onset of a physical CHC using seven indicators (health satisfaction, life satisfaction, energy, joy, worry, sadness, anger), examine transitions between the identified profiles, and determine predicting factors of these transitions.

Method: Latent profile analysis and latent transition analysis was conducted using a sample of 357 participants reporting a physical CHC drawn from the Swiss Household Panel dataset.

Results: Three profiles were identified at T - 1: low, high, and very high SWB. At T + 1 and T + 4, a fourth vulnerable profile emerged. Transition analysis showed that, overall, the most probable transition was to stay in similar profiles across time. However, recovery toward higher SWB profiles and delayed reaction toward lower SWB profiles appeared between 1 and 4 years following the CHC onset. Factors predicting recovery patterns from low to high SWB are better health status, fewer negative life events, and financial scarcity, whereas lower emotional stability was related to a delayed reaction from high to low SWB.

Conclusion: This study underlines the importance of personal factors in the adaptation following CHC onset. Routine assessment of personality traits would enable identifying individuals at greater risk of lower SWB following the onset of a CHC. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Chronic Disease* / psychology
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Mental Health*