Social Support and Preventive Healthcare Behaviors among Couples in Later Life

Sae Hwang Han, Kyungmin Kim, Jeffrey A. Burr, Rachel Pruchno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background and Study Objectives: Intimate partners and close friends represent two major sources of social support that are central to one's health and health behaviors in later life. The aim of this study was to examine dyadic linkages between perceived social support (from spouses and friends) and preventive healthcare behaviors among coupled-individuals. Design and Methods: Prospective data from the Health and Retirement Study (2010, 2012) were used to analyze a sample of coupled-individuals (dyad N = 1,902). A series of multilevel logistic regression (actor-partner interdependence) models were estimated to evaluate whether perceived social support from spouses and friends was associated with the likelihood of using two common forms of preventive healthcare services (i.e., influenza vaccination and cancer screenings). Results: Apart from the role of perceived support from spouse on flu vaccinations, wives' preventive healthcare behaviors were unrelated to perceived social support. In contrast, husbands' preventive healthcare behaviors showed consistent associations with perceived social support from friends for the 2-year observation period. Further, husbands' receipt of prostate cancer screening was associated with wives' perceptions of social support from spouse as well as friends. Discussion and Implications: These findings contributed to our understanding of the health advantages associated with being in a marital relationship for preventive healthcare behaviors, especially for men. Future research should unpack the pathways through which social support of various forms is associated with obtaining needed preventive health services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1162-1170
Number of pages9
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 16 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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