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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2010 Jul;65(4):438-48. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbq033. Epub 2010 May 24.

Physical health and depression: a dyadic study of chronic health conditions and depressive symptomatology in older adult couples.

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  • 1VA Boston Healthcare System, Massachusetts, USA.


This study examined the associations among chronic health conditions, sociodemographic factors, and depressive symptomatology in older married couples. Data from the 2004 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (n = 2,184 couples) were analyzed. Results indicated a reciprocal relationship in depressive symptoms between spouses. Additionally, post hoc analyses indicated that husbands' stroke and high blood pressure were related to increased depressive symptomatology among wives. Beyond the reciprocal relationship, husbands were unaffected by wives' health. These results suggest sex differences underlying psychological distress in the context of physical health among older adults and that older women with husbands who have high levels of depressive symptomatology, high blood pressure, or a history of stroke may be at particular risk of experiencing depressive symptoms.

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