Subtle movements and facial features may indicate risk of death

Washington: A new study suggests that features like the wrinkles on your forehead and the way you move may reflect your overall health and risk of dying.

But do physicians consider such details when assessing patients' overall health and functioning?

In a survey of approximately 1,200 Taiwanese participants, Princeton University researchers found that interviewers - who were not health professionals but were trained to administer the survey - provided health assessments that were related to a survey participant's risk of dying, in part because they were attuned to facial expressions, responsiveness and overall agility.

The researchers report that these assessments were even more accurate predictors of dying than assessments made by physicians or even the individuals themselves.

The findings show that survey interviewers, who typically spend a fair amount of time observing participants, can glean important information regarding participants' health through thorough observations.

"Your face and body reveal a lot about your life. We speculate that a lot of information about a person's health is reflected in their face, movements, speech and functioning, as well as in the information explicitly collected during interviews," Noreen Goldman, Hughes-Rogers Professor of Demography and Public Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School, said.

The study is published in the journal Epidemiology.