HealthDay News — Patients with liberal political ideologies were less likely to die over the course of a 30-year review compared with people who have conservative and moderate ideologies, research published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health suggests.
Party lines, however, did not determine life spans — overall, Independents fared better compared with Republican and Democrats.
“Longitudinal analyses of mortality are needed because subjective assessments of ideology may confound subjective assessments of health, particularly in cross-sectional analyses,” noted Roman Pabayo, PhD, of the University of Nevada at Reno, and colleagues.
To determine whether political party affiliation or political ideology was associated with time to death, the investigators tracked 32,830 adults in the United States for three decades. The volunteers joined the study between 1976 and 2008 for an average of 15 years.
The participants answered questions about their political views, although their answers didn’t fit easily into boxes: liberals weren’t necessarily Democrats, and conservatives weren’t necessarily Republicans. The study didn’t analyze where their views fit along the political spectrum; it was only based on what the participants thought of themselves.
Nearly 30% of the volunteers died during the course of the study, reported the researchers. After adjusting statistics to compensate for high or low numbers of people who shared certain traits, such as race or age, the scientists found that 33% of Democrats died, compared with 28% of Republicans and 23% of Independents.
When it came to political ideologies, 30% of conservatives and moderates died compared with 25% of liberals. While the study authors tried to account for the influence of factors like race, education level, and income, they didn’t have any data regarding life choices such as diet, smoking, and exercise. Liberals and independents could simply be living more healthy lifestyles than other people, or the connection may be a coincidence, added the investigators.
“Political party affiliation and political ideology appear to be different predictors of mortality,” concluded the investigators.