Stressful social relations and mortality: a prospective cohort study

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BACKGROUND: Few studies have examined the relationship between stressful social relations in private life and all-cause mortality.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the association between stressful social relations (with partner, children, other family, friends and neighbours, respectively) and all-cause mortality in a large population-based study of middle-aged men and women. Further, to investigate the possible modification of this association by labour force participation and gender.

METHODS: We used baseline data (2000) from The Danish Longitudinal Study on Work, Unemployment and Health, including 9875 men and women aged 36-52 years, linked to the Danish Cause of Death Registry for information on all-cause mortality until 31 December 2011. Associations between stressful social relations with partner, children, other family, friends and neighbours, respectively, and all-cause mortality were examined using Cox proportional hazards models adjusted for age, gender, cohabitation status, occupational social class, hospitalisation with chronic disorder 1980-baseline, depressive symptoms and perceived emotional support. Modification by gender and labour force participation was investigated by an additive hazards model.

RESULTS: Frequent worries/demands from partner or children were associated with 50-100% increased mortality risk. Frequent conflicts with any type of social relation were associated with 2-3 times increased mortality risk. Interaction between labour force participation and worries/demands (462 additional cases per 100 000 person-years, p=0.05) and conflicts with partner (830 additional cases per 100 000 person-years, p<0.01) was suggested. Being male and experiencing frequent worries/demands from partner produced 135 extra cases per 100 000 person-years, p=0.05 due to interaction.

CONCLUSIONS: Stressful social relations are associated with increased mortality risk among middle-aged men and women for a variety of different social roles. Those outside the labour force and men seem especially vulnerable to exposure.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)720-727
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

ID: 112940435