Gallup: Using skills and talents may be the best medicine

Dec. 27, 2013 at 10:43 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- The more U.S. adults with health issues use their skills and talents to do what they do best, the less they report pain, worry, stress or anger, a survey says.

The Gallup Daily tracking interviews of 120,354 U.S. adults Aug. 22 to Dec. 30, 2012, assessed strengths usage based on responses to the following question: "About how many hours out of the day yesterday were you able to use your strengths to do what you do best?"

Health problems were assessed by asking, "Do you have any health problems that prevent you from doing any of the things people your age normally can do?"

U.S. adults with health problems, who can use their strengths for at least 10 hours per day were much less likely to say they experience pain -- 50 percent -- than those who used their strengths for 3 hours or less daily at 69 percent.

The same relationship exists among those without health problems, only with a somewhat smaller difference in experiencing pain between those who use their strengths for 10 or more hours (13 percent) and those who use their strengths for 0 to 3 hours (17 percent).

This pattern holds true for anger, stress, sadness and worry, and is consistent across all age, gender, education, and income groups, Gallup said.

It is possible that Americans who report using their strengths for more hours per day are generally more positive or upbeat people who are less likely to report experiencing negative emotions. Even if this is the case, this underlying positivity has clear benefits for Americans -- particularly for those with health problems -- in terms of how they view and describe their lives.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey has a margin of error of 0.4 percentage points.

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