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Dissatisfied Marriage Have a Bad Effect on the Health of Older Adults

by Medindia Content Team on April 19, 2006 at 7:19 PM
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Dissatisfied Marriage Have a Bad Effect on the Health of Older Adults

According to the study conducted by the researcher Dr. Debra Umberson it was found that a troubled marriage may speed the decline in health that comes with age. They have found a higher rate of heart disease among people who are dissatisfied with their marriage. This result of the latest study was published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

She also said that these health effects caused due to marital problems differ depending on age. Umberson chairs the sociology department at the University of Texas-Austin, said there are several reasons that older adults could be more vulnerable to marital woes, chronic stress being an important factor. Additionally older adults are more susceptible to these health effects due to age-related declines in immune function. Umberson and her colleagues focused on 1,049 men and women who were interviewed at three points over eight years and remained married throughout that time.

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Study participants answered questions on marital quality including whether their spouse made them feel loved and cared for and listened to their concerns, and whether they had frequent disagreements and conflicts. They were also asked to rate their physical health on a range from poor to excellent.

In the end it was found that men and women who reported more marital strain reported a steeper decline in their health over time. But when the researchers separated study participants into three age groups those ages 30, 50 and 70 then it was found that only the oldest group showed negative health effects. Similarly, only older adults showed health benefits from a happy marriage. Umberson and her colleagues concluded that professional counseling is one of the best options for addressing marital woes.

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