Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Health behavior examined in long-term relationships

Date:
June 11, 2012
Source:
University of Cincinnati
Summary:
Results of a new study are based on in-depth interviews with couples in heterosexual marriages as well as gay and lesbian partnerships.

Women bear the brunt of being the health police in heterosexual marriages, but gay and lesbian couples are more likely to mutually influence each other's health habits -- for better or for worse.

Related Articles


The findings are reported in the June issue of the journal, Social Science & Medicine.

Researchers Corinne Reczek, a University of Cincinnati assistant professor of sociology, and Debra Umberson, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, followed 20 long-term heterosexual marriages as well as 15 long-term gay and 15 long-term lesbian partnerships in the United States. Their findings reflected previous research that in heterosexual marriages, women put more effort into encouraging good health habits for their spouses.

Sociologists have theorized that from early childhood, the socialization of women into caretaker roles has led to health benefits for husbands. Reczek says this newest study is among the first of its kind to explore how gay and lesbian couples affect each other's health habits.

The researchers examined what they called "health work" -- defined as any activity or dialogue concerned with enhancing another's health. The researchers conducted 100 in-depth interviews with couples involved in 50 long-term relationships -- couples who were involved for at least eight years or longer.

The study found that at least one partner in over three-quarters of the heterosexual, gay and lesbian couples did some form of health work as a result of two reasons: the other partner had bad health habits, or one partner was considered the "health expert."

Nearly half of the respondents -- heterosexual, gay or lesbian -- blamed a partner's unhealthy habits for the other partner's attempts at intervention. Among heterosexual couples, men were typically identified as needing the prodding toward healthier lifestyles.

For couples identifying a "health expert," the researchers say that straight women were almost exclusively identified, while gay and lesbian couples identified one partner as the health expert, regardless of gender.

For better or for worse, couples mutually reinforcing health behaviors were more prominent in gay (80 percent) and lesbian (86 percent) couples versus straight couples (10 percent).

"The social and institutional conditions within which gay and lesbian couples live -- including a heteronormative and homophobic culture at large, and a non-institutionalized nonheterosexual union -- structure a unique relational context for cooperative, more egalitarian health work processes to emerge," write the authors.

The authors state that the findings suggest that gendered relational context of an intimate partnership shapes the dynamics and explanations for health behavior work.

The research was supported in part by a grant from the National Institute on Aging as well as the Mentoring Program of The Center for Population Research in LGBT Health, under the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Demographic Description

In the survey sample, 80 percent of the straight respondents were white, 15 percent were African-American, one Asian-American and one Latina. Gay and lesbian respondents included 63 percent whites, 27 percent who identified as Hispanics, Latinos or Latinas, one African-American, one Native-American/Hispanic, and one South American.

The average age for the straight couples was 45 years -- 49 years for gay respondents and 43 years for lesbian respondents.

The average relationship duration for straight couples was 17 years, 21 years for gay couples and 14 years for lesbian couples. Household income averaged $60,000.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cincinnati. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Cincinnati. "Health behavior examined in long-term relationships." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611122429.htm>.
University of Cincinnati. (2012, June 11). Health behavior examined in long-term relationships. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 5, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611122429.htm
University of Cincinnati. "Health behavior examined in long-term relationships." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120611122429.htm (accessed March 5, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Former NFL Players Donate Brains to Science

Reuters - US Online Video (Mar. 3, 2015) — Super Bowl champions Sidney Rice and Steve Weatherford donate their brains, post-mortem, to scientific research into repetitive brain trauma. Jillian Kitchener reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Alzheimer's Protein Plaque Found In 20-Year-Olds

Newsy (Mar. 3, 2015) — Researchers found an abnormal protein associated with Alzheimer&apos;s disease in the brains of 20-year-olds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

This Nasal Treatment Could Help Ease Migraine Pain

Newsy (Mar. 2, 2015) — Researchers gave lidocaine to 112 patients, and about 88 percent of the subjects said they needed less migraine-relief medicine the next day. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

How Facebook Use Can Lead To Depression

Newsy (Mar. 1, 2015) — Margaret Duffy of the University of Missouri talks about her study on the social network and the envy and depression that Facebook use can cause. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins