In today’s Straits Times, a study by National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) found a link between stock market volatility and heart failure hospitalization. This was independent of air pollution levels, which is a possible confound that could cause an increase in heart disease.
The researchers rightly pointed out that the emotional well-being (apart from physical well-being) of the patient is important. They also ‘admitted that one limitation of the population-based study was that it was hard to determine the exact cause behind the association’. This was because no patient data regarding age, gender or vested interest in stocks were available.
The researchers’ honesty and candor in raising the above caveats have to be appreciated. With the increasing interest in data and analytics being applied to healthcare, one needs to be very aware that correlational studies remain as such – causative effects cannot be proven. Perhaps relating to the observed effects is the general economic climate belying the volatility of the stock market that affects the man in the street.
Reference article here