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Family Sees, Family Does

U.S. research points out the best way to change a spouse to healthful behavior are for the other spouse to display healthful behavior.

The findings, published in Health Services Research, found if one-spouse exercises, gives up smoking, discontinues drinking alcohol, receives a flu shot or undergoes a cholesterol screen, the other spouse is more likely to do the same.

The study of 6,072 individuals and their spouses from the Health and Retirement Study found those who drank alcohol were more than five times likely to give up drinking if their spouse quit. The same held true for smokers.

We found that when one spouse improves his or her health behavior, the other spouse was likely to do so as well, study co-author Jody Sindelar, of the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., said in a statement. This was steady across all the behaviors analyzed and was similar among both males and females.

Sindelar and co-author Dr. Tracy Falba, of Duke University, propose viewing health habits in the context of a family. Attempts to change behavior, may be enhanced or thwarted, by the behavior of family members, especially spouses. Intervention programs must take in ways to get the other spouse involved in exercising as well or helping reduce tobacco cues.



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