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Conference Paper American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting

Marital Disruption and Mental Health: a nine wave panel study


Publication date

18 May 2002


Background: Evidence suggests that marital transition is a precursor for poor mental health. However, there is contradictory evidence indicating that poor mental within marriage is a selective factor leading to marital disruption.
Aims: To examine the relationship between marital transitions and mental health within the framework of selection and causation processes.
Method: The sample is drawn from the nine annual waves of the British Household Panel Survey (1991 to 1999). Mental health was measured using the 12-item General Health Questionnaire.
Results: Findings indicate that those moving out of marriage have a much higher prevalence of poor mental health. However, further analyses indicate that, among those separated and divorced, disorder precedes marital disruption and the likelihood of transition out of marriage increases with previous mental health problems.
Conclusions: These results clearly support the presence of causation processes for widows/ers but tend toward selection processes for those who separate or divorce.


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