ISEMPH Presentation: William Lee

ISEMPH - William Lee, Plymouth University

"Does anxiety keep you safe? Evidence from seven large European population-based cohorts."
William Lee
Centre for Clinical Trials and Population Studies, Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry
Plymouth University 
Raised trait anxiety appears to be beneficial to animals but what about humans? Our first study on the topic found raised trait anxiety to be associated with reduced deaths from injuries. A review of the literature yielded a divided picture and diversity in reporting. We assessed the relationship between trait anxiety and mortality from injuries and from other causes in six large datasets. Methods: Trait anxiety measures were divided at the median. Cox’s regression analyses were for deaths from injuries up to age 30 and for all causes across the life course. Dose-response effects were examined by dividing the anxiety measures into tertiles and we tested for interactions by sex. Results: A total of 125,923 people were studied (2,204,346 person years at risk and 12,648 deaths). No protective role for increased trait anxiety was found, nor an interaction by sex. Raised trait anxiety was associated with increased all-cause mortality. Discussion: Chance and era effects are explored: Perhaps high trait anxiety was once useful to humans but is not currently? Implications are explored including examining the links between animal and human anxiety and between the fear response and trait anxiety. Last, the decrease in deaths from injuries is examined.