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For better or for worse: Spousal concordance in health behavior change

dc.contributor.author Falba, Tracy
dc.contributor.author Sindelar, Jody L
dc.date.accessioned 2010-12-08T20:25:24Z
dc.date.available 2010-12-08T20:25:24Z
dc.date.issued 2008-02
dc.identifier.uri https://hdl.handle.net/10161/2860
dc.description.abstract Objective. This study examines the degree to which a married individual’s health habits and use of preventive medical care are influenced by his or her spouse’s behaviors. Study Design. Using longitudinal data on individuals and their spouses, we examine changes over time in the health habits of each person as a function of changes in his or her spouse’s health habits. Specifically, we analyze changes in smoking, drinking, exercising, cholesterol screening, and obtaining a flu shot. Data Source. This study uses data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), a nationally representative sample of individuals born between 1931 and 1941 and their spouses. Beginning in 1992, 12,652 persons (age-eligible individuals as well as their spouses) from 7,702 households were surveyed about many aspects of their life, including health behaviors, use of preventive services, and disease diagnosis. Sample. The analytic sample includes 6,072 individuals who are married at the time of the initial HRS survey and who remain married and in the sample at the time of the 1996 and 2000 waves. Principal Findings. We consistently find that when one spouse improves his or her behavior, the other spouse is likely to do so as well. This is found across all the behaviors analyzed, and persists despite controlling for many other factors. Conclusions. Simultaneous changes occur in a number of health behaviors. This conclusion has prescriptive implications for developing interventions, treatments, and policies to improve health habits and for evaluating the impact of such measures.
dc.description.sponsorship Funding for this project came from grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (#039787), and the National Institute on Aging (#R01 AG027045).
dc.language.iso en_US
dc.publisher HSR: Health Services Research
dc.subject Spouse
dc.subject smoking
dc.subject alcohol
dc.subject exercise
dc.subject preventive services
dc.title For better or for worse: Spousal concordance in health behavior change
dc.title.alternative Spousal Concordance in Health Behavior Change
dc.type Journal article


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