University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications


Optimism, Cynical Hostility, Falls, and Fractures: The Women's Health Initiative Observational Study (WHI-OS)

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

Publication Date


Document Type



Musculoskeletal Diseases | Psychiatry and Psychology | Women's Health


Traits of optimism and cynical hostility are features of personality that could influence the risk of falls and fractures by influencing risk-taking behaviors, health behaviors, or inflammation. To test the hypothesis that personality influences falls and fracture risk, we studied 87,342 women enrolled in WHI-OS. Optimism was assessed by the Life Orientation Test-Revised and cynical hostility, the cynicism subscale of the Cook-Medley questionnaire. Higher scores indicate greater optimism and hostility. Optimism and hostility were correlated at r = -0. 31, p < 0.001. Annual self-report of falling > /=2 times in the past year was modeled using repeated measures logistic regression. Cox proportional hazards models were used for the fracture outcomes. We examined the risk of falls and fractures across the quartiles (Q) of optimism and hostility with tests for trends; Q1 formed the referent group. The average follow-up for fractures was 11.4 years and for falls was 7.6 years. In multivariable (MV)-adjusted models, women with the highest optimism scores (Q4) were 11% less likely to report > /=2 falls in the past year (odds ratio [OR] = 0.89; 95% confidence intervals [CI] 0.85-0.90). Women in Q4 for hostility had a 12% higher risk of > /=2 falls (OR = 1.12; 95% CI 1.07-1.17). Higher optimism scores were also associated with a 10% lower risk of fractures, but this association was attenuated in MV models. Women with the greatest hostility (Q4) had a modest increased risk of any fracture (MV-adjusted hazard ratio = 1. 05; 95% CI 1.01-1.09), but there was no association with specific fracture sites. In conclusion, optimism was independently associated with a decreased risk of > /=2 falls, and hostility with an increased risk of > /=2 falls, independent of traditional risk factors. The magnitude of the association was similar to aging 5 years. Whether interventions aimed at attitudes could reduce fall risks remains to be determined.



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Citation: J Bone Miner Res. 2017 Feb;32(2):221-229. Epub 2016 Sep 20. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of bone and mineral research : the official journal of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research

PubMed ID