Does being married really make you healthier Husbands and wives are 'more likely than singletons to overestimate how well they are'Married people tend to overestimate their level of health compared to those who are singleSeem to have a different concept of what constitutes bad healthMay be more able to cope with illness due to the support a spouse offersBy the time a wedded person describes themselves as in ‘poor health’ they tend to be much sicker than a single person
Study still supported findings that overall being unmarried significantly increases the risk of death within three years
14:21 GMT, 21 March 2013
18:32 GMT, 21 March 2013
A married person will be sicker than a single person when they describe themselves as in 'poor health'
For married couples, the stability of a happy relationship, and having a partner to support them 'in sickness and in health', can make them feel invincible should they fall ill.
But new research has cast doubt over previous findings which suggested being wed had a beneficial effect on health, as well as mortality rates.
A study has shown that married people overestimate how healthy they are in comparison to their single counterparts, and thus are likely to seek help for conditions later, which may impact the treatment outcome.
The research, conducted by Ohio State University in collaboration with the University of Texas at Austin, shows that marriage may not be as protective of health as prior research has led us to believe.
Those who are married seem to have a different concept of what constitutes ‘bad’ health, generally rating their health as ‘poor’ at a much more advanced state of ill health than those who are single, divorced or never-married.
Lead author of the study Hui Zheng, assistant professor at Ohio State University said: ‘The married don’t seem to report their health as being poor until they’ve already developed much more severe health problems.’
By the time a wedded person describes them self as in ‘poor health’ they tend to be much sicker than a single person who says their health is ‘poor’ and thus they are likely to seek medical assistance at a later stage.
In most conditions, the earlier a diagnosis is made and a correct course of treatment started, the better the prognosis and long term outcome, so husbands and wives may be at risk.
The reasons behind this overestimation of health by those who have tied the knot is likely to be a complex interaction of factors, but Zheng and his co-author Patricia Thomas of the University of Texas at Austin suggest it is in part due to the support your partner offers you in a marriage.
‘Even when married people do get sick, the impact on their life may be less because of the support they receive from their husband or wife.
‘They don’t rate their health as low as do unmarried people, because their spouse helps them cope,’ Zheng said.
The support of a spouse may be the reason behind married people overestimating how healthy they are
The study used data on about 789,000 and is published in the March 2013 issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.
It also found, in line with the bulk of research, that while overall being unmarried significantly increased the risk of the death of an individual within three years, this protection decreases as health gets worse.
Marriage may be a benefit to those who are in good health, but having tied the knot does little, or nothing, for those in poor health or who's health begins to deteriorate.
So while a single person in excellent
health may have a larger risk of dying than a married person in
excellent health, a married person in bad health has almost exactly the
same rate of mortality as a singleton.
says: ‘Marriage is helpful in persuading people to adopt a healthy
lifestyle that can lead to a longer life, bit is not as useful in
helping people recover from a serious illness.’
They may over estimate their health but those who are in wedded bliss are still less likely to die in three years