Washington: When it comes to diabetes, "nagging is caring," suggests a new study.
The national study led by a Michigan State University sociologist found that an unhappy marriage may actually slow the development of diabetes in men and promote successful treatment once they do get the disease.
Why? It may be because wives are constantly regulating their husband's health behaviours, especially if he is in poor health or diabetic. And while this may improve the husband's health, it also can be seen as annoying and provoke hostility and emotional distress.
"The study challenges the traditional assumption that negative marital quality is always detrimental to health," said lead investigator Hui Liu. "It also encourages family scholars to distinguish different sources and types of marital quality. Sometimes, nagging is caring."
Using data from the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, Liu and colleagues analyzed survey results from 1,228 married respondents over five years. At the onset of the study, the respondents were 57 to 85 years old; 389 had diabetes at the end of the study.
Liu investigated the role of marital quality in diabetes risk and management and found that for men, an increase in negative marital quality lowered the risk of developing diabetes and increased the chances of managing the disease after its onset, while for women, a good marriage was related to a lower risk of being diabetic five years later.
Women may be more sensitive than men to the quality of a relationship and thus more likely to experience a health boost from a good-quality relationship, Liu said.
The study noted that since diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in the United States, implementation of public policies and programs designed to promote marital quality should also reduce the risk of diabetes and promote health and longevity, especially for wo men at older ages.
The study appears in Journals of Gerontology: Social Sciences....