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Spousal Influence on General Health Behaviors in a Community Sample

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Objective : To examine if one partner's premarital health behavior was longitudinally associated with his or her partner's health behaviors.

Methods : Newlyweds were assessed at marriage and at 3 follow-ups with respect to frequency of general health behaviors: exercise, physical examinations, and healthy and unhealthy eating.

Results : One partner's health behavior prior to marriage was associated with the other partner's health behavior over time. This was true for positive and negative behaviors for both men and women.

Conclusions : Understanding how partners influence each other's health behaviors is important for health promotion and intervention efforts. Targeting the couple for health promotion activities could benefit the couple more than simply targeting individuals.
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Keywords: general health; marriage; partner influence

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1 Assistant Professor, Department of Health Behavior, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York and Associate Research Scientist, Research Institute on Addictions, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, NY.

Publication date: 01 November 2008

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  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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