Medical Professionals Should Consider How Marital Quality Affects Patients' Health
Christine Proulx, an assistant professor in the MU Department of Human Development and Family Studies, examined the long-term relationship between self-rated health and marital quality. She found that, in all stages of marriage, positive or negative relationships affect the individuals' health. Spouses should be aware that how they treat each other and how happy they are in their marriages affect both partners' health, and they should think more about their personal relationships when thinking holistically about their health, she said.
"We often think about the aging process as something we can treat medically with a pill or more exercise, but working on your marriage also might benefit your health as you age," Proulx said. "Engaging with your spouse is not going to cure cancer, but building stronger relationships can improve both people's spirits and well-being and lower their stress."
Proulx suggests that health professionals consider patients' personal relationships when designing health promotion programs or treatment plans.
"Physicians should recognize that the strength of patients' marriages might affect their health," she said. "I suspect we'd have higher rates of adherence to treatment plans for chronic illnesses if medical professionals placed more of an emphasis on incorporating families and spouses in patients' care. If spouses understand their partners' disease and how to treat it at home, and the couple has a strong marriage, both people's health could improve."
Proulx analyzed data from 707 continuously married adults who participated in the Marital Instability Over the Life Course panel study, a 20-year, nationwide research project started in 1980 with funding from the Social Security Administration's Office of Research and Statistics and the National Institute on Aging.
Most study participants were Caucasian, had more than high school educations, and earned more than $55,000 in annual family income in 2000. Because of these characteristics, Proulx says the participants probably had some protection against marital and health challenges more commonly faced by people of different ethnicities or with less education or income.
By Kate McIntyre
The study, “The Longitudinal Associations between Marital Happiness, Problems, and Self-Rated Health,” will be published in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Family Psychology. Proulx co-authored the study with Linley Snyder-Rivas, an alumna of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the MU College of Human Environmental Sciences.
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source: EurekAlert!, the online, global news service operated by AAAS, the science society
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Medical Professionals Should Consider How Marital Quality Affects Patients' Health." Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 17 Feb. 2013. Web.
28 Aug. 2016. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/256403.php>
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2013, February 17). "Medical Professionals Should Consider How Marital Quality Affects Patients' Health." Medical News Today. Retrieved from
Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.
Contact our news editors
For any corrections of factual information, or to contact our editorial team, please see our contact page.
Copyright Medical News Today: Excluding email/sharing services explicitly offered on this website, material published on Medical News Today may not be reproduced, or distributed without the prior written permission of Medilexicon International Ltd. Please contact us for further details.