Well-Being and Arthritis Incidence: The Role of Inflammatory Mechanisms. Findings From the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

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Abstract

Objective

Higher levels of well-being are associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers in healthy populations; however, it is unclear whether this association translates into a reduced risk of disease. In the current study, we tested whether the association between well-being and inflammation results in a lower risk of arthritis.

Methods

The sample consisted of 5622 participants 50 years or older from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing and included six waves of data collection. We used a structural equation modeling approach to test whether inflammatory markers (C-reactive protein [CRP] or fibrinogen) mediated the association between well-being and arthritis risk for a 10-year follow-up period.

Results

Higher levels of well-being were associated with a decrease in arthritis risk (hazard ratio = 0.97 per unit, 95% confidence interval = 0.96 to 0.98, p < .001). Of the two inflammatory markers, only CRP was associated with arthritis risk. Mediation analysis revealed that the indirect effect of well-being (at wave 1) on arthritis risk via CRP (at wave 2) was significant (hazard ratio = 0.996, 95% confidence interval = 0.995 to 0.998, p < .001). This effect remained significant after adjustment for demographic and health behavior variables and depressive symptoms.

Conclusions

CRP accounts for a small proportion of the association between well-being and a reduced risk of arthritis.

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