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J Psychosom Res. 2003 Sep;55(3):209-14.

Reported nonreciprocity of social exchange and depressive symptoms. Extending the model of effort-reward imbalance beyond work.

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  • 1Department of Medical Sociology, Heinrich Heine-University, P.O. Box 10 10 07, D-40001, Duesseldorf, Germany. knesebec@uni-duesseldorf.de



To study associations of stressful experience in close social relationships with depressive symptoms a measure of nonreciprocal social exchange in marital, parental and less specific civic roles was developed. This measure aims at extending the model of effort-reward imbalance beyond work.


Data from two national surveys in Germany (n=682) and the United States (n=608) were collected, using probability samples of persons 60 years or older. Reported nonreciprocity was measured by a Likert scale. Psychometric properties are described. Depressive symptoms were measured by the CES-D Scale and relevant covariates were assessed.


Logistic regression analysis indicates that the risk of depressive symptoms was about twice as high in elderly men and women reporting nonreciprocity of social exchange compared to nonstressed subjects.


Findings provide preliminary evidence of usefulness of a measure that extends the notion of nonreciprocal social exchange beyond working life.

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