Optimism's explicative role for chronic diseases

Giulia Avvenuti, Ilaria Baiardini, Anna Giardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The increasing interest about dispositional optimism's role in health status and its positive modulating effect on health outcomes has led to a remarkable scientific production in the last decade. To date lot is known for which diseases optimism is relevant, instead much less is known about how optimism interacts with other factors, both biological and psychological, in determining health status. The aim of this mini review is to explore the literature derived from clinical and experimental research assessing the associations between dispositional optimism and health status. Dispositional optimism can be considered as facet of personality that is cognitive in nature which holds the global expectation that the future will be plenty of good events. Optimists view desired goals as obtainable, so they often confront adversities in active manners resulting in perseverance and increased goal attainment. Only studies that explicitly included optimism and health outcomes, as measurable variables, and that reported a clear association between them have been reviewed. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory failure, and aging with multimorbidity were considered. Among the possible explicative hypotheses, two seem to best describe results: optimism may have a direct effect on the neuroendocrine system and on immune responses, and it may have an indirect effect on health outcomes by promoting protective health behaviors, adaptive coping strategies and enhancing positive mood. The research on optimism and health status has already shed light on important mechanisms regarding chronic diseases' management, however, further studies are needed to deepen the knowledge.

Original languageEnglish
Article number295
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberMAR
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2 2016


  • Chronic diseases
  • Health status
  • Optimism
  • Protective behaviors
  • Self-management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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