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Chronic inflammation and quality of life in older adults: a cross-sectional study using biomarkers to predict emotional and relational outcomes

28 Sep 2014

Background:
This study explores relationships between chronic inflammation and quality of life, making a case for biopsychosocial modeling of these associations. It builds on research from social and clinical disciplines connecting chronic conditions, and inflammatory conditions specifically, to reduced quality of life.
Methods:
Data from Wave I of the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project are modeled using ordinal logistic and ordinary least-squares regression techniques. Inflammation is measured using C-reactive protein; quality of life is conceptualized as happiness with life overall as well as intimate relationships specifically.
Results:
For most NSHAP participants, chronic inflammation significantly predicts lower odds of reporting high QoL on both emotional and relational measures. Social structural factors do not confound these associations. Inconsistent results for participants with very high (over 6?mg/L) CRP measurements suggest additional social influences.
Conclusions:
Findings echo strong theoretical justification for investigating relationships between CRP and QoL in greater detail. Further research should explore possible mediation of these associations by sociomedical sequelae of chronic disease as well as social relationship dynamics. Elaboration is also needed on the mechanisms by which social disadvantage may cause chronic inflammation.

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