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Subjective Life Expectancy and Health Behaviors Among STD Clinic Patients

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Objectives: To examine whether people who expect to live longer engage in healthier behaviors relative to people who expect to live shorter lives.

Methods: Patients (994 black Americans, 373 white Americans) from a publicly funded clinic estimated their expected survival age and reported their health behaviors (alcohol, tobacco, and drug use; sexual behaviors; physical activity; and sleep).

Results: Subjective life expectancy (SLE) was a significant predictor of health behavior for both men and women. Race moderated the SLE-health behavior relation but only for alcohol and tobacco use.

Conclusions: Future research should explore the potential health benefits of shifting SLE from a more limited to an expansive perspective.

Keywords: United States; gender; health behaviors; life expectancy; race

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Research Assistant Professor, Center for Health and Behavior, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY.

Publication date: May 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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