Research: Partnership History and Mental Health over Time

Study Objective

To describe the mental health of men and women with differing histories of partnership transitions.


Data from nine waves of the British Household Panel Survey, a stratified general population sample, were used to calculate age standardised ratios and 95% confidence intervals for mean General Health Questionnaire scores for groups with different partnership transition histories.


2,127 men and 2,303 women aged under 65 who provided full interviews at every survey wave.

Main Results

Enduring first partnerships were associated with good mental health. Partnership splits were associated with poorer mental health, although the reformation of partnerships partially reversed this. Cohabiting was more beneficial to men’s mental health, whereas marriage was more beneficial to women’s mental health. The more recently a partnership split had occurred the greater the negative outcome for mental health. Women seemed more adversely affected by multiple partnership transitions and to take longer to recover from partnership splits than men. Single women had good mental health relative to other women but the same was not true for single men relative to other male partnership groups.


Partnership was protective of mental health. Mental health was worse immediately after partnership splits, and the negative outcomes for health were longer lasting in women. Future work should consider other factors that may mediate, confound, or jointly determine the relation between partnership change and health.


Willitts, M., Benzeval, M. & Stansfield, S. (2004) Partnership History and Mental Health Over Time. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 58(1), pp.53-58.

The Ill Effect of Problematic Neighbourhood Environments on Spousal/Partner Relationships & Mental Health and Psychological Well-being

Research Paper Title

Perceived neighbourhood disorder and psychological distress among Latino adults in the United States: Considering spousal/partner relationship.


It has been well-established that neighbourhood disorder and disadvantage are detrimental to mental health and psychological well-being.

There has been growing research interest in minority stress issues, however, less is known about how perceived neighbourhood disorder matters for psychological well-being among Latino adults in the United States.


Analysing data from National Latino Asian American Study, 2002-2003, the present study investigates the relationships among perceived neighbourhood disorder, spousal/partner relationships (i.e., spousal/partner strain and support), and psychological distress.


The findings indicated that perceived neighbourhood disorder and spousal/partner strain were positively associated with increased psychological distress, whereas spousal/partner support had no protective effect against psychological distress.

Moreover, mediation analysis showed that the association between perceived neighbourhood disorder and psychological distress was partially mediated by spousal/partner strain (i.e., 15.13%), not spousal support.

Finally, moderation analysis revealed that the presence of spousal/partner strain exacerbated the relationship between perceived neighbourhood disorder and psychological distress. Conversely, the absence of spousal/partner strain appeared to buffer the adverse impact of neighbourhood disorder on psychological distress.


These findings highlighted the ill effect of problematic neighbourhood environments on the quality of the spousal/partner relationship and subsequently Latino’s psychological well-being.


Kwon, S. (2019) Perceived neighborhood disorder and psychological distress among Latino adults in the United States: Considering spousal/partner relationship. Journal of Community Psychology. doi: 10.1002/jcop.22288. [Epub ahead of print].