Sense of coherence and diabetes: a prospective occupational cohort

Anne M. Kouvonen, Ari Väänänen, Stephen A. Woods, Tarja Heponiemi, Aki Koskinen, Salla Toppinen-Tann

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Background: Sense of coherence (SOC) is an individual characteristic related to a positive life orientation leading to effective coping. A weak SOC has been associated with indicators of general morbidity and mortality. However, the relationship between SOC and diabetes has not been studied in prospective design. The present study prospectively examined the relationship between a weak SOC and the incidence of diabetes. Methods: The relationship between a weak SOC and the incidence of diabetes was investigated among 5827 Finnish male employees aged 18–65 at baseline (1986). SOC was measured by questionnaire survey at baseline. Data on prescription diabetes drugs from 1987 to 2004 were obtained from the Drug Imbursement Register held by the Social Insurance Institution. Results: During the follow-up, 313 cases of diabetes were recorded. A weak SOC was associated with a 46% higher risk of diabetes in participants who had been =<50 years of age on entry into the study. This association was independent of age, education, marital status, psychological distress, self-rated health, smoking status, binge drinking and physical activity. No similar association was observed in older employees. Conclusion: The results suggest that besides focusing on well-known risk factors for diabetes, strengthening SOC in employees of =<50 years of age can also play a role in attempts to tackle increasing rates of diabetes.
Original languageEnglish
Article number46
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number46
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2008

Bibliographical note

© 2008 Kouvonen et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • sense of coherence
  • SOC
  • positive life orientation
  • effective coping
  • morbidity
  • mortality
  • diabetes
  • weak
  • rates of diabetes


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