play a vital role in health
and well-being, and it follows that loss experiences can be highly stressful for some people. This article reviews what is known about the association between marital separation
, and health
Key findings in the area of divorce
are discussed, and the review outlines a series of specific questions for future research. In particular, the article integrates research in social epidemiology with research in social psychophysiology. The former approach provides a broad-based estimate of the association between marital status and health
outcomes, whereas the latter approach studies mechanisms of action and individual differences associated with increased risk for poor outcomes.
The experience of separation or divorce
confers risk for poor health
outcomes, including a 23% higher mortality rate. However, most people cope well and are resilient after their marriage or long-term relationship ends. Despite the fact that resilience
is the most common response, a small percentage of people (approximately 10%–15%) struggle quite substantially, and it seems that the overall elevated adverse health
risks are driven by the poor functioning of this group. Several candidate mechanisms and novel (ambulatory) assessment techniques that may elucidate the poor outcomes among people who adapt poorly to separation are discussed.
To increase knowledge on the association between divorce
, three primary areas require more research: a) genetic and third variable explanations for divorce
outcomes, (b) better studies of objective social behavior after separation, and (c) increased attention to interventions targeting high-risk adults.