‘My family is making me sick’ – but, for both him and her? examining the effect of gender on the association between close relationships and health

Patricia N.E. Roberson, Sarah B. Woods, Jacob B. Priest, Melanie Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Using a biopsychosocial health approach, we examine the role of close relationships on health for men and women. With a cross-sectional US sample (N = 872), we examine a structural model to determine how close relationships (family and romantic) influence number of chronic disease and number of prescription medication through physiological (allostatic load) and psychological (depression/anxiety symptoms) biobehavioural reactivity differently by gender. For both men and women, family/couple relationships impact health through depression/anxiety symptoms more so than allostatic load. However, for women, family relationships can both positively and negatively influenced health outcomes when considering both indirect and direct associations. Findings indicate that there may be unmeasured coping mechanisms (eg exercise, alcohol consumption) that can differentially impact health for men compared to women. Also, when examining family and couple dimensions of relationships simultaneously, couple relationships appear to have less of an impact on health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Family Studies
StateAccepted/In press - May 30 2018



  • allostatic load
  • anxiety
  • Biobehavioral family model (BBFM)
  • chronic disease
  • depression
  • family
  • marriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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