University of Oulu

Robinson RK, Heinonen K, Girchenko P, Lahti-Pulkkinen M, Kajantie E, Hovi P, et al. (2021) Optimism in adults born preterm: Systematic review and individual-participant-data meta-analysis. PLoS ONE 16(11): e0259463.

Optimism in adults born preterm : systematic review and individual-participant-data meta-analysis

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Author: Robinson, Rachel K.1; Heinonen, Kati1,2; Girchenko, Polina1;
Organizations: 1Department of Psychology & Logopedics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Welfare Sciences/Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
3National Institute of Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
4University/British Heart Foundation Centre for Cardiovascular Science, Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom,
5PEDEGO Research Unit, Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu Finland, Oulu, Finland
6Children’s Hospital, Helsinki University Hospital and the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
7Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
8Department of General Practice Primary Health Care, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
9Folkhälsan Research Center, Helsinki, Finland
10Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, Agency for Science, Technology and Research, Singapore, Singapore
11Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, National University of Singapore, Singapore, Singapore
12Mental Health and Wellbeing, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom
13Department of Psychology, University of Warwick, Coventry, United Kingdom
14Department of Psychology, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Public Library of Science, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-02-16


Aim: Preterm birth(<37 gestational weeks) is associated with numerous adversities, however, data on positive developmental outcomes remain limited. We examined if preterm and term born(≥37 gestational weeks) adults differ in dispositional optimism/pessimism, a personality trait associated with health and wellbeing. We assessed if birth weight z-score, neurosensory impairments and parental education modified the outcome.

Methods: We systematically searched PubMed and Web of Science for cohort or case-control studies(born ≥ 1970) with data on gestational age and optimism/pessimism reported using the Life-Orientation-Test-Revised in adulthood(≥18 years). The three identified studies(Helsinki Study of Very Low Birth Weight Adults; Arvo Ylppö Longitudinal Study; Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children) provided data for the two-step random-effects linear regression Individual-Participant-Data meta-analysis.

Results: Preterm and term borns did not differ on optimism(p = 0.76). Preterms scored higher on pessimism than term borns(Mean difference = 0.35, 95%Confidence Interval 0.36, 0.60, p = 0.007), although not after full adjustment. Preterm born participants, but not term born participants, with higher birth weight z-score, had higher optimism scores (0.30 raw score units per standard deviation increase, 95% CI 0.10, 0.49, p = 0.003); preterm vs term x birth weight z-score interaction p = 0.004).

Conclusions: Preterm and term born adults display similar optimism. In preterms, higher birth weight may foster developmental trajectories promoting more optimistic life orientations.

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Series: PLoS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
ISSN-E: 1932-6203
ISSN-L: 1932-6203
Volume: 16
Issue: 11
Article number: e0259463
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0259463
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 515 Psychology
Funding: This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 733280 for RECAP. The PremLife project is financially supported by the NORFACE Joint Research Programme on Dynamics of Inequality Across the Life-course, which is co-funded by the European Commission through Horizon 2020 under grant agreement No 724363 (Warwick University No. 462.16.100 and the University of Helsinki No 462.16.101). Funding also comes from the Academy of Finland (No 315690, 323910, 1284859, 12848591, 1312670, 1324596) and the Grant JUG 14 by the Federal Government of .Germany Ministry of Science and Technology (BMBF). For ALSPAC, funding was received from the UK Medical Research Council and Wellcome (Grant ref: 217065/Z/19/Z) and the University of Bristol provide core support for ALSPAC. This publication is the work of the authors and they will serve as guarantors for the contents of this paper. A comprehensive list of grants funding is available on the ALSPAC website (; This research was specifically funded by the Wellcome Trust MRC No 092731, Lifelong Health and Wellbeing (LLHW) via the MRC No G1001357. The Helsinki Study of Very Low Birth Weight Adults has in addition been supported by Foundation for Cardiovascular Research(Sydäntutkimussäätiö), Foundation for Pediatric Research(Lastentautien Tutkimussäätiö), Juho Vainio Foundation(Juha Vainion Säätiö), Novo Nordisk Foundation(Novo Nordisk Fonden), Signe and Ane Gyllenberg Foundation(Signe ja Ane Gyllenberg Säätiö), Sigrid Juselius Foundation(Sigrid Juselius Säätiö) and Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation(Yrjö Jahnsson Säätiö). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
Copyright information: © 2021 Robinson et al. 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 author and source are credited.