Published in Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

Authors: Jones A, Pope, JE, Coberley, CR

Objective: To evaluate the relationship between partner well-being and outcomes of chronically diseased individuals participating in an employer sponsored well-being improvement program.

Methods: Using the Actor Partner Interdependence Model, we evaluated whether prior partner well-being was associated with well-being change among 2,025 couples. Logistic regression models were then used to explore how spousal well being risks relate to development and elimination of risks among program participants.

Results: High well-being partners were associated with positive well-being change. Specifically, the partner effect for spouses’ high well-being on disease management participants was a 1.5 point higher well-being in the following time period (p = 0.001) while the partner effect of participants’ high well-being on spouses was nearly 1.1 points (p = 0.010).

Conclusion: Well-being within couples is interdependent, and partner well-being is an important predictor of individual well-being change.

Key Takeaways

  • Using data on over 2,000 couples, this study evaluated the relationship between spouse well-being scores and the outcomes of chronically diseased individuals participating in an employer sponsored disease management program.
  • The results demonstrate similarities in overall well-being and well-being domains among couples, specifically within domains more likely to be influenced by intra-household characteristics such as basic access, health behavior, and life evaluation.
  • Having a spouse with high well-being was significantly associated with positive changes in well-being over time. Participants in the disease management program were estimated to have 1.5 points higher well-being in T2 if their spouse reported having high baseline well-being compared to participants with low well-being spouses.
  • This research shows that employees and their spouses influence one another’s well-being over time. Many employers already extend wellness benefits to spouses, but continue to take an individual-centric approach. A new opportunity is leveraging inter-spousal influence to create more efficient programs such that the benefit of a participating couple is greater than the sum of their individual outcomes.