Strained relationships with parents, siblings or extended family members may be more harmful to people’s health than a troubled relationship with a significant other, according to a study published by the American Psychological Association.
“We found that family emotional climate had a big effect on overall health, including the development or worsening of chronic conditions such as stroke and headaches over the 20-year span of midlife,” said Sarah B. Woods, Ph.D., assistant professor of family and community medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and lead author of the study. “Contrary to previous research, which found that intimate relationships had a large effect on physical health, we did not get the same results.”
The study was published in the Journal of Family Psychology.
“Most often, researchers focus on romantic relationships, especially marriage, presuming they likely have more of a powerful effect on heath,” Woods said. “Given changes in how Americans are partnering, waiting longer to marry, if at all, and the lengthier, and possibly more emotion-laden trajectories of family-of-origin relationships, we wanted to compare the strength of associations between family and intimate partners and health over time.”
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