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Book ChapterDOI

Personality and Type 2 Diabetes: An Overview of the Epidemiological Evidence

TL;DR: In this paper, the authors reviewed the evidence on personality, as defined by the Big Five traits, and both the risk and progression of type 2 diabetes. And they found that low conscientiousness has been most consistently associated with Type 2 diabetes, while the onset of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, but also other chronic diseases is associated with subsequent changes in personality traits.
Abstract: The relationship between personality and physical disease has long been studied. Recent advances in this research include the use of individual-participant data metaanalyses of longitudinal cohort studies, an approach that is often more protected from random error than single studies. Prioritizing results from such large-scale pooled data sets, we review the evidence on personality, as defined by the Big Five traits, and both the risk and progression of type 2 diabetes. The Big Five personality traits, including openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism, comprise the most commonly used conceptualization of personality in psychology. Of these traits, low conscientiousness has been most consistently associated with type 2 diabetes. The personality–diabetes association is not unidirectional. The onset of not only chronic conditions, such as diabetes, but also other chronic diseases is associated with subsequent changes in personality traits. These include decreases in conscientiousness, emotional stability (neuroticism), extraversion, and openness to experience. Further research is needed to better understand the personality–diabetes association and evaluate whether findings could be utilized in individualized prevention and treatment strategies for people with high risk of diabetes or preexisting type 2 diabetes.

Summary (1 min read)

Introduction

  • It is a timely public health challenge as the number of people with this condition is rapidly increasing due to population ageing and the global rise in sedentary lifestyles and obesity.
  • Common microvascular complications include, for example, retinopathy (eye disease), nephropathy (kidney disease) and neuropathy, a nerve damage typically in the long sensory nerves in the feet and the autonomic nervous system (Chatterjee et al., 2017).
  • Given that many of the diabetes risk factors tend to cluster together, it may be important to consider also potential upstream determinants that contribute to the overall adoption of an unhealthy lifestyle predisposing to the development of diabetes.
  • In reviewing empirical evidence, the authors prioritise findings from meta-analyses as they are based on large number of participants increasing data power and precision.

The Big Five Personality Traits

  • The Five Factor Model, also known as the Big Five Personality Traits, is the most commonly used conceptualisation of personality in academic psychology and psychosocial epidemiology (Costa & McCrae, 1992).
  • Findings from 10 the British Household Panel Survey of 9000 adults showed that compared to participants reporting a low level of psychological distress, those with a higher level of distress were at a 30% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes during the 1.5- year follow-up (Mommersteeg, Herr, Zijlstra, Schneider, & Pouwer, 2012).
  • Individuals with high conscientiousness may be more likely to implement adequate self-care than those with low conscientiousness (Molloy et al., 2014; Phillips & Guarnaccia, 2015), but the authors are not aware of large-scale studies that would have tested this hypothesis with diabetes progression.
  • The effect of personality on disease risk has been a topic of much research.

Conclusions and practical implications

  • The authors have described evidence on the association between personality and diabetes.
  • One 15 of the mechanisms underlying the protective effect of high conscientiousness was ability to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Studies on later disease stages revealed that the association between conscientiousness and chronic disease is likely to be bidirectional: having multiple chronic conditions, including diabetes, was related to reductions in conscientiousness over time.
  • In general, the contribution of personality to diabetes risk and prognosis seemed relatively modest compared to conventional diabetes risk factors, such as obesity and physical inactivity.

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https://helda.helsinki.fi
Personality and Type 2 Diabetes : An Overview of the
Epidemiological Evidence
Kivimäki, Mika
Elsevier Academic Press
2018
Kivimäki , M , Batty , G D & Jokela , M 2018 , Personality and Type 2 Diabetes : An
Overview of the Epidemiological Evidence . in C Johansen (ed.) , Personality and disease :
scientific proof vs. wishful thinking . 1. ed. edn , Elsevier Academic Press , pp. 69-82 . https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-805300-3.00005-0
http://hdl.handle.net/10138/324766
https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-805300-3.00005-0
Downloaded from Helda, University of Helsinki institutional repository.
This is an electronic reprint of the original article.
This reprint may differ from the original in pagination and typographic detail.
Please cite the original version.

1
BOOK CHAPTER
In “Personality and Disease: Scientific Proof vs. Wishful Thinking”, Edited by
Christoffer Johansen. Elsevier, New York.
Personality and type 2 diabetes
Mika Kivimäki,
1,2
G. David Batty,
1
Markus Jokela
3
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London,
United Kingdom
Clinicum, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Department of Psychology and Logopedics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Correspondence to:
Prof. Mika Kivimäki
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London,
1-19 Torrington Place, WC1E 6BT London, the United Kingdom
email: m.kivimaki@ucl.ac.uk

2
Acknowledgements:
M Kivimäki was supported by the United Kingdom Medical Research Council
(K013351), NordForsk and the Academy of Finland (311492).

3
Abstract
The relationship between personality and physical disease has long been studied.
Recent advances in this research include the use of individual-participant-data meta-
analyses of longitudinal cohort studies, an approach that is more protected from
random error than single studies. Prioritising results from such large-scale pooled
datasets, we review the evidence on personality, as defined by the big five traits, and
the risk and progression of type 2 diabetes. The big five personality traits, including
Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and
Neuroticism, comprise the most commonly used conceptualisation of personality in
psychology. Of these traits, conscientiousness has been consistently associated with
type 2 diabetes. Individuals high on conscientiousness are described as dutiful, task-
oriented, orderly, and self-disciplined. The results suggest that they are less likely to
development diabetes and also have lower rates of death from this condition
compared to those with low levels of conscientiousness. One mediating factor seems
to be weight management as indicated by a lower risk of obesity in healthy-weight
individuals with high conscientiousness and a higher likelihood of returning to non-
obese among those initially obese. The personality-diabetes association is not
unidirectional. The onset of chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart
disease, stroke, arthritis, respiratory and cancer, is associated with subsequent
changes in personality traits. These include decreases in conscientiousness, emotional
stability (low neuroticism), extraversion, and openness to experience. Further
research is needed to evaluate better understanding of the personality-diabetes
association could contribute to individualised prevention and treatment strategies for
people with high risk of diabetes or pre-existing type 2 diabetes.
[253 words]

4
Introduction
Type 2 diabetes is an important cause of disability and death worldwide. It is a timely
public health challenge as the number of people with this condition is rapidly
increasing due to population ageing and the global rise in sedentary lifestyles and
obesity. The Global Burden of Diseases study, the largest epidemiological study on
disease trends in the world, estimated that more than 1.5 million people died from
diabetes in 2015, over 30% more than 10 years earlier in 2005 (Mortality & Causes of
Death, 2016). Much research is therefore focussed on issues to strengthen prevention
and treatment of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition characterised by chronic hyperglycaemia
due to relative insulin deficiency caused by pancreatic β-cell dysfunction and insulin
resistance in target organs (Chatterjee, Khunti, & Davies, 2017). Persons with
diabetes are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia, but organs other
than the heart and the brain are also affected by the condition. Common
microvascular complications include, for example, retinopathy (eye disease),
nephropathy (kidney disease) and neuropathy, a nerve damage typically in the long
sensory nerves in the feet and the autonomic nervous system (Chatterjee et al., 2017).
In current clinical guidelines, lifestyle factors, such as physical inactivity, unhealthy
diet and obesity are acknowledged as key targets of diabetes prevention (UK NICE:
https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ph38; American Diabetes Association:
http://www.ndei.org/ADA-diabetes-management-guidelines-strategies-for-

Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
09 Jul 2021-Medicine
TL;DR: In this article, the authors examined whether certain personality traits of patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus are correlated with higher glycohemoglobin (HbA1c) levels.

7 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article , the authors explored the effects of personality traits on online rumor sharing during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the mediating role of the fear of COVID-2019 between them.
Abstract: This study aims to explore the effects of personality traits on online rumor sharing during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the mediating role of the fear of COVID-19 between them. We conducted this research using a web-based questionnaire distributed to 452 university students who were invited to fill it out. The partial least square structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) method was used to test the data and model, with the yielded results demonstrating that three—extroversion, emotional instability, and conscientiousness—of the Big Five personality traits are positively related to a fear of COVID-19, with this fear positively affecting online rumor sharing. Moreover, fear of COVID-19 was found to act as a mediator between personality traits and online rumor sharing; thus, we can conclude that persons with high levels of extroversion, emotional instability, and conscientiousness are more likely to share rumors online due to a fear of COVID-19. This study furthers our understanding of the psychological mechanism by which personality traits influence online rumor sharing and provides references for anti-rumor campaigns taking place during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it identifies key groups and sheds light on the necessity of reducing people’s fear of COVID-19.

5 citations

Frequently Asked Questions (2)
Q1. What are the contributions in "Personality and type 2 diabetes : an overview of the epidemiological evidence" ?

The relationship between personality and physical disease has long been studied. Recent advances in this research include the use of individual-participant-data metaanalyses of longitudinal cohort studies, an approach that is more protected from random error than single studies. Prioritising results from such large-scale pooled datasets, the authors review the evidence on personality, as defined by the big five traits, and the risk and progression of type 2 diabetes. The results suggest that they are less likely to development diabetes and also have lower rates of death from this condition compared to those with low levels of conscientiousness. Further research is needed to evaluate better understanding of the personality-diabetes association could contribute to individualised prevention and treatment strategies for people with high risk of diabetes or pre-existing type 2 diabetes. 

However, in relation to targeted strategies, personality might play a role in the future.