Mismatch in Spouses' Anger-Coping Response Styles and Risk of Early Mortality: A 32-Year Follow-Up Study.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

OBJECTIVE:Research in psychosomatic medicine includes a long history of studying how responses to anger-provoking situations are associated with health. In the context of a marriage, spouses may differ in their anger-coping response style. Where one person may express anger in response to unfair, aggressive interpersonal interactions, his/her partner may instead suppress anger. Discordant response styles within couples may lead to increased relational conflict, which, in turn, may undermine long-term health. The current study sought to examine the association between spouses' anger-coping response styles and mortality status 32 years later. METHODS:The present study used data from a subsample of married couples (N = 192) drawn from the Life Change Event Study to create an actor-partner interdependence model. RESULTS:Neither husbands' nor wives' response styles predicted their own or their partners' mortality. Wives' anger-coping response style, however, significantly moderated the association of husbands' response style on mortality risk 32 years later, β = -0.18, -0.35 to -0.01, p = .039. Similarly, husbands' response style significantly moderated the association of wives' response style and their later mortality, β = -0.24, -0.38 to -0.10, p < .001. These effects were such that the greater the mismatch between spouses' anger-coping response style, the greater the risk of early death. CONCLUSIONS:For a three-decade follow-up, husbands and wives were at greater risk of early death when their anger-coping response styles differed. Degree of mismatch between spouses' response styles may be an important long-term predictor of spouses' early mortality risk.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bourassa, KJ; Sbarra, DA; Ruiz, JM; Karciroti, N; Harburg, E

Published Date

  • January 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 81 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 26 - 33

PubMed ID

  • 30571660

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1534-7796

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0033-3174

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/psy.0000000000000653


  • eng