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Partners Have Similar Health Habits

coupleWhen one spouse decides to improve their health, it is more than likely that the other spouse will do the same, according to a new study.

The positive behavioral change may be smoking cessation, cutting back on on alcohol, obtaining a flu shot or receiving a cholesterol screen.

“We found that when one spouse improves his or her health behavior, the other spouse was likely to do so as well,” said co-author Jody Sindelar, health economist and public health professor in the Yale School of Public Health.

“This was consistent across all the behaviors analyzed and was similar among both males and females.”

Using longitudinal data on 6,072 individuals and their spouses from the Health and Retirement Study, the researchers found the changes in spouses’ health habits were most apparent in such behavior as smoking and drinking, which is often spurred by outside cues, and in patient-directed preventive behavior, such as getting a flu shot.

For example, smokers were more than five times more likely to quit smoking if their spouse quit, when controlling for other relevant factors. Similarly, spouses were five times more likely to quit drinking alcohol if their partner didn’t drink. The changes were less apparent in clinician-directed preventive behavior, such as obtaining cholesterol screening.

Sindelar and co-author Tracy Falba, M.D., visiting assistant professor at Duke University’s Center for Health Policy, Law and Management, said health habits and use of preventive services should be viewed in the context of a family.

They said attempts to change behavior may be enhanced, or thwarted, by the behavior of family members, especially spouses. For this reason, they said, intervention programs should include tips about how to get the other spouse involved in exercise or help reduce tobacco cues.

Source: Yale

Partners Have Similar Health Habits

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Partners Have Similar Health Habits. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2007/10/08/partners-have-similar-health-habits/1367.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.