Experiencing the onset of a chronic disease is a major life event impacting living conditions and wellbeing. Using longitudinal data, this study investigates immediate and trend impacts of chronic disease onset on life satisfaction and health satisfaction. It further examines, whether healthcare access buffers the immediate wellbeing reduction after disease onset.Methods:
Data were obtained from the German Socio-economic Panel (SOEP), a nationally representative longitudinal household survey. A sample of 4,122 individuals was identified for whom the onset of either cancer, cardiopathy, diabetes or stroke was observed. For this prospective sample, mixed model analyses using an interrupted time series approach were performed to identify immediate level changes in wellbeing and longitudinal trend changes after disease onset. In an exploratory analysis, spatial access to healthcare (availability of and distance to healthcare providers) as a potential buffer against wellbeing reduction was examined.Results:
Chronic disease onset had an immediate negative impact on the levels of life and health satisfaction. While for health satisfaction, the pre-onset negative wellbeing trend was reversed after disease onset, no trend change was observed for life satisfaction. Wellbeing level and trend effects both varied by chronic disease type. Spatial access to healthcare was not associated with post-onset wellbeing, accounting for pre-onset levels.Conclusions:
Health satisfaction levels follow a recovery trend after the onset of a chronic disease. The negative pre-onset trend, however, is not reversed for life satisfaction. Spatial access to healthcare does not seem to buffer the immediate wellbeing drop after chronic disease onset.