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Am J Mens Health. 2018 Nov;12(6):2006-2017. doi: 10.1177/1557988316660088. Epub 2016 Jul 22.

Health Behavior Among Men With Multiple Family Roles: The Moderating Effects of Perceived Partner Relationship Quality.

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1 The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA.
2 RTI International, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.
3 University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC, USA.
4 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.
5 Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA.
6 Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, USA.


Men in the United States are increasingly involved in their children's lives and currently represent 40% of informal caregivers to dependent relatives or friends aged 18 years and older. Yet much more is known about the health effects of varying family role occupancies for women relative to men. The present research sought to fill this empirical gap by first comparing the health behavior (sleep duration, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, fast food consumption) of men who only occupy partner roles and partnered men who also fill father, informal caregiver, or both father and informal caregiver (i.e., sandwiched) roles. The moderating effects of perceived partner relationship quality, conceptualized here as partner support and strain, on direct family role-health behavior linkages were also examined. A secondary analysis of survey data from 366 cohabiting and married men in the Work, Family and Health Study indicated that men's multiple family role occupancies were generally not associated with health behavior. With men continuing to take on more family responsibilities, as well as the serious health consequences of unhealthy behavior, the implications of these null effects are encouraging - additional family roles can be integrated into cohabiting and married men's role repertoires with minimal health behavior risks. Moderation analysis revealed, however, that men's perceived partner relationship quality constituted a significant factor in determining whether multiple family role occupancies had positive or negative consequences for sleep duration, alcohol consumption, and fast food consumption. These findings are discussed in terms of their empirical and practical implications for partnered men and their families.


caregiving men; fathers; health behavior; partner support and strain; sandwiched men

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