|Title||Your friends, my friends, and our family: Informal social participation and mental health through the lens of linked lives.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2021|
|Journal||Social Science & Medicine|
|Keywords||Dyadic, gender, Marriage, Social participation|
RATIONALE: Social participation is an important predictor of individual health outcomes, but few studies have examined it in the context of marriage relationships, even though the social lives of spouses are inextricably linked.
OBJECTIVE: To examine whether individuals' mental health is associated with their spouse's contact with friends and family.
METHODS: Using dyadic data from adults aged 50 and above in the Health and Retirement Study (N = 5030 couples), I examine whether individuals' mental health is associated with their spouse's contact with friends and family (i.e., partner effects) through a longitudinal actor-partner interdependence model. In addition, I test for the presence of gender differences in these effects. Both depressive symptoms and binge drinking are used as measures of mental health to account for the different ways in which men and women may express psychological distress.
RESULTS: Results show partial evidence that spousal contact with friends and family are associated with one's own mental health outcomes, and that within-dyad discrepancies in informal social participation may be detrimental to mental well-being.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight the importance of understanding the dynamics between social participation and health through the lens of "linked lives", especially for married couples.