Article

Life sustaining irritations? Relationship quality and mortality in the context of chronic illness.

Institute for Social Research, Ann Arbor, MI, United States.
Social Science & Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.56). 11/2008; 67(8):1291-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.06.029
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The social integration and mortality link are well documented but not well understood. To address this issue, the present study examined the context within which relationship quality affects mortality over a 19-year period. Participants were 40 years and older from Waves 1 (1986) and 2 (1989) of the nationally representative Americans' Changing Lives Study (N=2098). Interviews included questions about health and positive and negative relationship qualities with spouse, children, and friends/relatives. A total of 39% (N=827) of participants were deceased by 2005. In support of the main effect model, Cox proportional hazard regressions revealed that consistently low levels of positive support and an increase in negativity from spouse or child from 1986 to 1989 were associated with increased mortality. In support of the buffering effect, among people with chronic illnesses, negative relations at baseline were associated with decreased mortality. We conclude that the social relations-mortality link is more complex than previously understood and is influenced by the context.

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