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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2001 Nov;56(6):S352-64.

Depressive symptomatology in middle-aged and older married couples: a dyadic analysis.

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Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7164, USA.



Depressive symptomatology has been frequently conceptualized as an individual matter, but social contextual models argue that symptom levels are likely to covary in close relationships. The present study investigated correlation between spouses' depressive symptomatology in middle-aged and older married couples, the influence of gender and race/ethnicity in predicting variability in symptom level, and the importance of individual-level covariates (education, health, and age) and couple-level covariates (household income and net worth).


Results were based on secondary analysis of Wave 1 interviews with White, Black, and Mexican American married couples (N = 5,423) from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and the Study of Asset and Health Dynamics Among the Oldest Old (AHEAD). Dyadic data from husbands and wives were analyzed with multilevel modeling.


Husbands' and wives' depressive symptoms were moderately correlated, gender and race/ethnicity (and their interaction) predicted depressive symptoms, and both individual-level and couple-level characteristics were significant covariates. Similarities as well as differences are noted between the HRS and AHEAD results.


Results highlight the importance of dyadic data and multilevel models for understanding depressive symptomatology in married couples. The influence of race/ethnicity merits greater attention in future research. Differences in findings between HRS and AHEAD suggest life-course, cohort, or methodological influences.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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