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J Aging Health. 2005 Feb;17(1):85-104.

The role of marital quality in physical health during the mature years.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, 305 Oechsle Hall, Lafayette College, Easton, PA 18042, USA. bookwalj@lafayette.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

This study examined the role of marital quality in the physical health of mature adults.

METHOD:

Participants were from the National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States aged 50+ years who were in their first marriage. Five dimensions of marital quality and four indicators of physical health were used.

RESULTS:

Regression analyses indicated that marital quality indices accounted for a significant amount of explained variance in physical health. Most notably, higher levels of negative spousal behaviors uniquely contributed to physical health, predicting more physical symptoms, chronic health problems, and physical disability, and poorer perceived health.

DISCUSSION:

The occurrence of negative spousal behaviors was consistently associated with poorer physical health. The negativity effect observed regarding the costs and benefits of social support in general also applies to the context of marriage in that negative spousal behaviors outweigh positive spousal behaviors in contributing to mature adults' physical health.

PMID:
15601785
DOI:
10.1177/0898264304272794
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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