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.

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 April 24, 2014 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 April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
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:
from the past week

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