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J Aging Health. 2015 Sep;27(6):939-61. doi: 10.1177/0898264315569456. Epub 2015 Feb 5.

Reactivity to a Spouse's Interpersonal Suffering in Late Life Marriage: A Mixed-Methods Approach.

Author information

1
Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA Hannah-rose.mitchell@yale.edu.
2
Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, USA.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine how older adult spouses react to their partners' interpersonal suffering.

METHOD:

Spouses of individuals with musculoskeletal pain were recorded describing their partners' suffering while their blood pressure (BP) was monitored. After the account, spouses described their distress. Speeches were transcribed and analyzed with Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count software and coded for interpersonal content. Multivariate regression analyses were conducted with interpersonal content variables predicting BP and distress. Exploratory qualitative analysis was conducted using ATLAS.ti to explore mechanisms behind quantitative results.

RESULTS:

Describing partners' suffering as interpersonal and using social (family) words were associated with higher systolic BP reactivity. Husbands were more likely to describe partners' suffering as interpersonal. Qualitative results suggested shared stressors and bereavement-related distress as potential mechanisms for heightened reactivity to interpersonal suffering.

DISCUSSION:

Spouses' interpersonal suffering may negatively affect both men and women's cardiovascular health, and older husbands may be particularly affected.

KEYWORDS:

gender differences; health; interpersonal relationships; older adults; stress

PMID:
25659746
PMCID:
PMC4520739
DOI:
10.1177/0898264315569456
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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