Over-confident adults visit doctors two times less a year than the health-conscious — leaving them more at risk of serious disease, study finds
- University of Vienna researchers looked at 80,000 European adults for the study
- Found those who were over-confident visited the doctor two fewer times a year compared to those who were not confident about their health
- Scientists warned this could leave them at risk of having diseases spotted late
Over-confidence could be the enemy of good health, a new study has found — because adults with too much self-belief are less likely to visit doctors even when they are feeling unwell.
Researchers at the University of Vienna, Austria, found that people aged 50 and over who were too confident about their health visited the doctor two times less a year on average than those who were not.
They warned this could lead to serious diseases such as cancer only being diagnosed in the late stages — when the patient is harder to treat.
It comes as part of a growing body of research showing the downsides of too much confidence, including poor financial decisions, wasting time on bad ideas and losing the trust of others around you.
Researchers at the University of Vienna, Austria, found those who were over-confident about their health visited the doctor two times less a year on average than those who were not confident (stock)
Patients over 60 who enjoy a stiff drink may recover better after an operation than those who stay sober
Older patients who enjoy a stiff drink may recover better after an operation than those who stay sober, a study suggested Wednesday.
People aged 60 and over who consumed a ‘potentially unhealthy amount’ of alcohol typically had a better quality of life.
The heavy drinkers reported significantly better mobility, self-care and fewer problems undertaking daily activities after surgery compared to those drank less or not at all.
Researcher Vera Guttenthaler, from University Hospital Bonn, in Germany, said: ‘One explanation may be that higher alcohol consumption may lead to elevated mood, enhanced sociability and reduced stress.’
While the findings have been questioned by other academics, the researchers said the topic was ‘exciting’ and warrants further investigation.
Published this week in the Journal of the Economics of Aging, researchers looked at more than 80,000 European adults who were over 50 years old.
Participants were asked to rate how healthy they were by whether they would struggle to get up from a chair after sitting for a long period.
They were then asked to physically get up from a chair, with the scientists rating whether this was harder or easier than expected.
Next participants were questioned on whether they suffered any health conditions and how often they visited the doctors in a year.
Results showed most adults (79 percent) correctly assessed their health, but a tenth either over or under estimated it.
Those who were less confident were more likely to say they had an underlying health condition — such as high blood pressure, cataracts or high cholesterol — than those who were over-confident.
Overall, participants visited the doctors about nine times a year.
But those in the over-confident group were 17 percent less likely to visit the doctor.
While those in the least confident group went around ten times a year.
The scientists did not investigate whether either group faced a higher risk of death from certain conditions.
Dr Sonja Spitzer, a demographer who led the study, and others said: ‘Individuals that believe they are healthier than they actually are could delay doctor visits even when necessary — and turn up sicker in later stages of the illness.
‘While this might result in short term savings, in the long run, health gets worse if left untreated and results in more serious illness leading to higher costs.
‘Overconfident individuals might also be less inclined in using preventative and screening services for early detection of diseases.’
They added: ‘[On the other hand], individuals that underestimate health may end up having earlier screening and diagnosis of diseases due to frequent doctor visits, and impact costs differently by preventing further deterioration of health.’
The study was based on the results of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement (SHARE) research that was carried out between 2006 and 2013.
Dr Mujaheed Shaikh, a health economist at the Hertie School in Berlin, Germany, was also involved in the research.