Marital Status and Physical Health: Racial Differences

Document Type: Original Article

Author

Center for Research on Ethnicity, Culture, and Health (CRECH), School of Public Health, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48104, USA/Department of Psychiatry, University of Michigan, 4250 Plymouth Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2700, USA

Abstract

Background and aims: As suggested by the Minorities’ Diminished Return Theory, the association
between socioeconomic status and health is weaker for racial and ethnic minorities compared to
Whites. The current study compared Blacks and Whites in terms of the association between marital
status and physical health.
Methods: The State of the State Survey (SOSS) included 881 adults (92 Blacks and 782 Whites)
generalizable to the state of Michigan, the United States. The marital status and self-rated physical health
(SRPH), which was measured using a single item, were considered as independent and dependent
variables, respectively. In addition, age, gender, education, and employment were covariates and race/
ethnicity was regarded as the moderating factor. Finally, logistic regression was used for data analysis.
Results: Based on the results, being married was associated with better SRPH, which is the net
considered by all confounders. A significant interaction was found between race and marital status on
SRPH, suggesting a larger association for Blacks compared to Whites. In race stratified models, marital
status was related to better SRPH for Whites and Blacks, but the magnitude of this link was larger for
Blacks compared to Whites.
Conclusion: Overall, marital status was differently linked to SRPM for Whites and Blacks. Accordingly,
policymakers should be cautious while not assuming that diverse racial and ethnic groups with similar
economic resources have similar health status.

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