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Health Psychol. 2012 Jan;31(1):80-6. doi: 10.1037/a0025671. Epub 2011 Oct 17.

A longitudinal investigation of marital adjustment as a risk factor for metabolic syndrome.

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University of Colorado at Boulder, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, 345 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0345, USA.



Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a constellation of features--central obesity, dyslipidemia, elevated blood pressure, and dysglycemia--that are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and mortality. This longitudinal study was conducted to evaluate whether marital adjustment, which has been shown to predict a variety of health outcomes, increases risk for incidence of MetS.


A population-based English sample of couples (N = 216 couples) completed a self-report measure of marital adjustment at baseline and nurse visits that included collection of blood pressure, blood samples, and anthropometric measures at baseline and 4-year follow-up. Multilevel modeling was used to evaluate the association between both partners' report of baseline marital adjustment and incidence of MetS, controlling for other baseline risk factors (demographics, current and previous smoking status, alcohol use, activity level, depressive symptoms, number of MetS criteria).


Gender moderated the association between marital adjustment and incidence of MetS. Follow-up analyses indicated that husbands' report of marital adjustment at baseline was significantly associated with incident MetS for wives at follow-up, controlling for baseline risk factors. Marital adjustment was not significantly associated with incident MetS for men.


Findings suggest that MetS may be one mechanism by which poor marital adjustment increases risk for poor health outcomes in women. Improving marital adjustment may help prevent the incidence of MetS and improve health, particularly for women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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