Personal values influence behavior and decision making, but their long-term associations with health-related quality of life (HRQoL), frailty, and mortality are less clear. We studied these associations from midlife to old age in a 26-year follow-up of the Helsinki Businessmen Study (HBS) cohort.
In 1974, 1320 clinically healthy men (born 1919–1934) reported in a 12-item questionnaire their personal values. In 2000, a mailed questionnaire, including assessment of HRQoL with RAND-36 (SF-36) instrument, was sent to survivors, and 1025 men responded. In 2000, the presence of phenotypic frailty was assessed using modified Fried criteria including indicators of shrinking, physical weakness, exhaustion, and physical inactivity. Mortality through December 31, 2000 was verified from national registries.
Using a factor analysis, the data of the 12-item questionnaire of personal values were loaded in 3 factors: valuing health (“Health”), enjoyable and varying life (“Enjoyment”), and comfort and work-oriented life (“Work-life-balance”). Adjusted for age, we found a significant positive association between valuing “Health” in midlife and RAND-36 domains of Physical functioning (p = .032) and Vitality (p = .005) in old age. “Health” also predicted less frailty (p = .008), and “Enjoyment” was associated with higher mortality (p = .017).
Value priorities of men assessed in midlife had long-term associations with HRQoL and frailty in old age, and they may also predict mortality.