Having a sense of control over our lives has an impact on when we die, but only if we are white and not black, according to research from the University of Michigan. Using data from the Religion, Aging, and Health Survey, Dr. Shervin Assari of the U-M School of Public Health Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health and Department of Psychiatry, measured how participants felt about the control they had over life circumstances and various environmental factors that typically impact people.
They also were asked to rate their health.
In the study of some 1,500 people ages 65 and older, nearly equally divided between white and black, whites were more likely to express having a handle on life. When this attitude was measured against other factors of age, gender, health behaviors (smoking, drinking) and health status (presence of disease), there was a two times greater association between sense of control over life and a lowered risk of mortality for whites but not for blacks.
When the study followed the participants for three years gathering data on deaths, Assari found that the short-term risk of dying from all causes was 60 percent higher for those who said they have less control over their lives.