Concept: Visual markers of marital status
Being unmarried is associated with decreased survival in the general population. Whether married, divorced, separated, widowed, or never-married status affects outcomes in patients with cardiovascular disease has not been well characterized.
- Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry
- Published 6 months ago
Being married is associated with healthier lifestyle behaviours and lower mortality and may reduce risk for dementia due to life-course factors. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of the association between marital status and the risk of developing dementia.
Although married cancer patients have more favorable survival than unmarried patients, reasons underlying this association are not fully understood. The authors evaluated the role of economic resources, including health insurance status and neighborhood socioeconomic status (nSES), in a large California cohort.
Mortality risk is lower in married than in unmarried men and women. However, little is known about the association between mortality and relationship status in South Africa where marriage rates are low, migration is common, many couples are not co-resident and HIV prevalence is high.
It has been observed that married cancer patients have lower mortality rates than unmarried patients, but data for different racial/ethnic groups are scarce. The authors examined the risk of overall mortality associated with marital status across racial/ethnic groups and sex in data from the California Cancer Registry.
BACKGROUND: Living arrangements have changed markedly in recent decades, so we wanted to provide an up-to-date assessment of mortality as a function of marital status and cohabitation status in a complete population. METHODS: We studied mortality in a national cohort of 6.5 million Danes followed for 122.5 million person-years during 1982-2011, using continuously updated individual-level information on living arrangements, socio-demographic covariates and causes of deaths. Hazard ratios (HRs) estimated relative mortality in categories of marital status, cohabitation status and combinations thereof. RESULTS: HRs for overall mortality changed markedly over time, most notably for persons in same-sex marriage. In 2000-2011, opposite-sex married persons (reference, HR = 1) had consistently lower mortality than persons in other marital status categories in women (HRs 1.37-1.89) and men (HRs 1.37-1.66). Mortality was particularly high for same-sex married women (HR = 1.89), notably from suicide (HR = 6.40) and cancer (HR = 1.62), whereas rates for same-sex married men (HR = 1.38) were equal to or lower than those for unmarried, divorced and widowed men. Prior marriages (whether opposite-sex or same-sex) were associated with increased mortality in both women and men (HR = 1.16-1.45 per additional prior marriage). CONCLUSION: Our study provides a detailed account of living arrangements and their associations with mortality over three decades, thus yielding accurate and statistically powerful analyses of public health relevance to countries with marriage and cohabitation patterns comparable to Denmark’s. Of note, mortality among same-sex married men has declined markedly since the mid-1990s and is now at or below that of unmarried, divorced and widowed men, whereas same-sex married women emerge as the group of women with highest and, in recent years, even further increasing mortality.
This study challenges two well-established associations in medical sociology: the beneficial effect of marriage on health and the predictive power of self-rated health on mortality. Using The National Health Interview Survey 1986-2004 with 1986-2006 mortality follow-up (789,096 respondents with 24,095 deaths) and Cox Proportional Hazards Models, we find the protective effect of marriage against mortality decreases with deteriorating health so that the married and unmarried in poor health are at similar risk for death. We also find the power of self-rated health to predict mortality is higher for the married than for any unmarried group. By using ordered logistic regression models, we find thresholds shift such that, compared to the unmarried, the married may not report poorer health until developing more severe health problems. These findings suggest the married tend to overestimate their health status. These two phenomena (diminishing protection and overestimation) contribute to but do not completely explain each other.
Based on a large population of 1113 men aged 30-60 at baseline (mean: 44.1 years, standard deviation: 10.5), we investigated whether intra-individual changes in testosterone (T) and related reproductive hormones during a ten year period were dependent of marital status at baseline and follow-up. The studied men were part of a health survey in Denmark, conducted between 1982 and 1984 with a follow-up examination approximately ten years later. Data on reproductive hormones, measured in serum, and lifestyle and marital status were obtained at both time points. As expected, an age-related decline in testosterone was observed. However, independent of age and lifestyle, we observed that men who went from unmarried to married (n=81) during the study period experienced an accelerated age-related decline in testosterone (-6.6nmol/L) whereas men who went from married to unmarried (n=67) experienced an attenuated age-related decline (-2.3nmol/L). Men who were either married or unmarried at both time points (n=167, n=798, respectively) had a testosterone decline in between (-3.7nmol/L and -4.6nmol/L, respectively). Changes in T/LH ratio did not differ according to marital status indicating that the lowered T level is not compensated by increasing LH levels. This could suggest a modification of the gonadostat due to an adaptation to changing life circumstances.
Marital status and living arrangements, along with changes in these in mid-life and older ages, have implications for an individual’s health and mortality. Literature on health and mortality by marital status has consistently identified that unmarried individuals generally report poorer health and have a higher mortality risk than their married counterparts, with men being particularly affected in this respect. With evidence of increasing changes in partnership and living arrangements in older ages, with rising divorce amongst younger cohorts offsetting the lower risk of widowhood, it is important to consider the implications of such changes for health in later life. Within research which has examined changes in marital status and living arrangements in later life a key distinction has been between work using cross-sectional data and that which has used longitudinal data. In this context, two key debates have been the focus of research; firstly, research pointing to a possible selection of less healthy individuals into singlehood, separation or divorce, while the second debate relates to the extent to which an individual’s transitions earlier in the life course in terms of marital status and living arrangements have a differential impact on their health and mortality compared with transitions over shorter time periods. After reviewing the relevant literature, this paper argues that in order to fully account for changes in living arrangements as a determinant of health and mortality transitions, future research will increasingly need to consider a longer perspective and take into account transitions in living arrangements throughout an individual’s life course rather than simply focussing at one stage of the life course.
Marital status is an independent prognostic factor for survival in several types of cancer, but has not been fully studied in prostate cancer (PCa). A total of 95,846 men diagnosed with PCa were treated with radical prostatectomy (RP) between 2004 and 2009 within 18 Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registries. Survival curves were generated using Kaplan-Meier estimates and differences in survival were assessed using the log-rank test. Cox regression models were used to assess the impact of marital status on survival outcomes. The results demonstrated that the 8-year cancer-cause specific survival (CSS) rate of married men was higher than unmarried individuals. Further analyses revealed that divorced/separated men had a higher proportion of high Gleason scores (GS) PCa at diagnosis [hazard ratio (HR), 1.12; P=0.007] and those patients had the worst survival outcomes independent of age, ethnicity, grade, stage and sequence number [HR, 1.61; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.34-1.93]. Interestingly, it was observed that CSS among divorced/separated men decreased as the GS increased (GS≤6: HR, 2.5; GS=7: HR, 1.71; GS≥8: HR, 1.50; all P<0.05). Apart from that, no significant differences in CSS were observed in those who had never been married (HR, 1.20) or were widowed (HR, 1.13) relative to the married group. The results of the present study support the hypothesis that marital status is an independent prognostic factor among men with PCa who underwent RP. It was demonstrated that the mortality rates of divorced or separated men with PCa were significantly greater compared with the other groups. A further understanding of the potential associations among marital status, psychosocial factors and survival outcomes may help in developing novel, more effective methods of treating different groups of patients with PCa.