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Longitudinal Study: HILDA
Title: Mental Health Problems and Marital Disruption: Is it the Combination of Husbands and Wives' Mental Health Problems That Predicts Later Divorce?
Authors: Butterworth, P 
Rodgers, B 
Publication Date: Dec-2008
Pages: 758-763
Keywords: Spouses
Mental Health
marital disruption
Abstract: Background Divorce has been established as an adverse social consequence of mental illness. There is, however, little research that has considered how the mental health of both spouses may interact to predict relationship disruption. The aim of the current study was to use data from a large population-based survey to examine whether the combination of spouses’ mental health problems predicts subsequent marital dissolution. Methods Prospective analysis of data from a longitudinal national household survey. 3,230 couples were tracked over 36 months, with logistic regression models used to determine whether the mental health problems of both spouses at wave 1 (determined by the SF36 mental health subscale) predicted subsequent relationship dissolution. Results Couples in which either men or women reported mental health problems had higher rates of marital disruption than couples in which neither spouse experienced mental health problems. For couples in which both spouses reported mental health problems, rates of marital disruption reflected the additive combination of each spouse’s separate risk. Importantly, these couples showed no evidence of a multiplicative effect of mental illness on rates of subsequent divorce or separation. Conclusions The results do not support the notion that a combination of mental health problems in both spouses uniquely predicts marital dissolution. Rather, there is an additive effect of individual mental health problems on the risk of dissolution.
DOI: 10.1007/s00127-008-0366-5
Keywords: Health -- Mental; Relationships -- Divorce; Relationships; Families; Families -- Formation and Dissolution; Health
Research collection: Journal Articles
Appears in Collections:Journal Articles

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