Marital Status, Social Support, and Health Transitions in Chronic Disease Patients

by Cathy D. Sherbourne, Ron D. Hays


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Married persons tend to be healthier, both physically and mentally, than unmarried persons. The authors tested the hypothesis that being married results in better physical and mental health outcomes for chronic disease patients (N = 1,817) by increasing social support. They modeled health outcomes one year later, controlling for initial health status. Cross-validation studies of two random halves of the sample supported an indirect effect of marital status on mental health through social support, but did not support a relationship, direct or indirect, of either marital status or social support with physical health outcomes. In addition, specific types of functional support were not differentially predictive of mental health status.

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