The Partners for Life Program: A Couples Approach to Cardiac Risk Reduction

Tamara Sher*, Lynne Braun, Andrea Domas, Albert Bellg, Donald H. Baucom, Timothy T. Houle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Morbidity and mortality are reliably lower for the married compared with the unmarried across a variety of illnesses. What is less well understood is how a couple uses their relationship for recommended lifestyle changes associated with decreased risk for illness. Partners for Life compared a patient and partner approach to behavior change with a patient only approach on such factors as exercise, nutrition, and medication adherence. Ninety-three patients and their spouses/partners consented to participate (26% of those eligible) and were randomized into either the individual or couples condition. However, only 80 couples, distributed across conditions, contributed data to the analyses, due to missing data and missing data points. For exercise, there was a significant effect of couples treatment on the increase in activity and a significant effect of couples treatment on the acceleration of treatment over time. In addition, there was an interaction between marital satisfaction and treatment condition such that patients who reported higher levels of marital distress in the individuals condition did not maintain their physical activity gains by the end of treatment, while both distressed and nondistressed patients in the couples treatment exhibited accelerating gains throughout treatment. In terms of medication adherence, patients in the couples treatment exhibited virtually no change in medication adherence over time, while patients in the individuals treatment showed a 9% relative decrease across time. There were no condition or time effects for nutritional outcomes. Finally, there was an interaction between baseline marital satisfaction and treatment condition such that patients in the individuals condition who reported lower levels of initial marital satisfaction showed deterioration in marital satisfaction, while non satisfied patients in the couples treatment showed improvement over time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-149
Number of pages19
JournalFamily process
Volume53
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2014

Keywords

  • Behavior Change
  • Cardiac
  • Couples
  • Health
  • Risk Reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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