Middle-aged women who have “fulfilling” relationships with partners, friends and colleagues are less likely to develop chronic health conditions later in life, a new study has suggested.
The new study, published in the journal General Psychiatry, looked at data from nearly 7,700 women in Australia.
When the study began in 1996, women between the ages of 45 and 50 had none of the 11 common long-term conditions.
Every three years, the women involved in the study reported their levels of satisfaction with their partner, family, friends, job and social activities.
The women were monitored for 20 years to see if they developed cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, depression and anxiety.
During the follow-up period, 58% of the women developed more than one of the conditions.
The researchers found that women who reported the lowest level of satisfaction with their social relationships were twice as likely to develop multiple conditions as those who reported the highest levels of satisfaction, according to the analysis.
The study authors suggested that it might be useful for doctors to ask their patients about their social relationships.
Researchers have suggested that social connections should be considered a ‘public health priority’ in chronic disease prevention and intervention (iStock)
‘Our findings have significant implications for chronic disease management and intervention,’ wrote the authors from the University of Queensland, Brisbane.
“First, at an individual level, these implications can help advise women on the benefits of initiating or maintaining high-quality, diverse social relationships throughout middle and early life.
“Second, at the community level, interventions that focus on satisfaction or the quality of social relationships may be particularly effective in preventing the progression of chronic conditions.
He added that social connections should be considered a “public health priority” in chronic disease prevention and intervention.
They added, “These implications may help advise women on the benefits of initiating or maintaining high-quality, diverse social relationships throughout middle and early life.”
With additional reporting from the PA.