Background Many theories have been proposed to explain the high levels of ‘excess’ mortality (i.e. higher mortality over and above that explained by differences in socio-economic circumstances) shown in Scotland—and, especially, in its largest city, Glasgow—compared with elsewhere in the UK. One such proposal relates to differences in optimism, given previously reported evidence of the health benefits of an optimistic outlook.
Methods A representative survey of Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester was undertaken in 2011. Optimism was measured by the Life Orientation Test (Revised) (LOT-R), and compared between the cities by means of multiple linear regression models, adjusting for any differences in sample characteristics.
Results Unadjusted analyses showed LOT-R scores to be similar in Glasgow and Liverpool (mean score (SD): 14.7 (4.0) for both), but lower in Manchester (13.9 (3.8)). This was consistent in analyses by age, gender and social class. Multiple regression confirmed the city results: compared with Glasgow, optimism was either similar (Liverpool: adjusted difference in mean score: −0.16 (95% CI −0.45 to 0.13)) or lower (Manchester: −0.85 (−1.14 to −0.56)).
Conclusions The reasons for high levels of Scottish ‘excess’ mortality remain unclear. However, differences in psychological outlook such as optimism appear to be an unlikely explanation.
Bibliographical noteThe survey was jointly funded by NHS Health Scotland and
the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.
- excess mortality
- Life Orientation Test (Revised)