International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp 357–366 | Cite as

Marital breakup in later adulthood and self-rated health: a cross-sectional survey in Switzerland

  • Bina KnöpfliEmail author
  • Stéphane Cullati
  • Delphine S. Courvoisier
  • Claudine Burton-Jeangros
  • Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello
Original Article



This research examines the impact of relationship status on self-rated health (SRH) by taking into account intrapersonal and social resources.


Data stem from a Swiss-based survey of 1355 participants aged 40–65 years. Three groups are compared: continuously married (n = 399), single divorcees (n = 532) and repartnered divorcees (n = 424). Linear regression models are used to examine the predictive role of relationship status on SRH and to investigate the moderating role of intrapersonal and social resources on SRH.


Single divorcees show the lowest SRH scores, whereas their repartnered counterparts reported scores comparable to the continuously married—even after controlling for socio-demographic and economic variables. Although single divorcees reported higher levels of loneliness and agreeableness in addition to lower levels of resilience when compared with the other groups, none of these variables had a significant moderation effect on SRH.


Our results underscore the positive effect of relationship status on SRH, and contribute new insights on the impact of later-life divorce. Given the growing number of divorcees, related public health challenges are likely to increase.


Self-rated health Relationship status Marital breakup Later adulthood Resources 



This work is part of a national research project awarded to P. Perrig-Chiello. It was conducted at the Swiss National Centre of Competence in Research LIVES – Overcoming vulnerability: Life course perspectives and funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant Number 125770).


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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bina Knöpfli
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stéphane Cullati
    • 2
  • Delphine S. Courvoisier
    • 3
  • Claudine Burton-Jeangros
    • 2
  • Pasqualina Perrig-Chiello
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of PsychologyUniversity of BerneBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Swiss National Centre of Competence for Research LIVES – Overcoming Vulnerability: Life Course Perspectives, Institute of Demography and SocioeconomicsUniversity of GenevaGenève 4Switzerland
  3. 3.Division of Clinical EpidemiologyUniversity of GenevaGenève 14Switzerland

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