Adult Health in the Context of Everyday Family Life
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Characteristics of family life are linked both cross-sectionally and prospectively to adult mental and physical health.
This paper discusses social and biological processes that may explain how families influence the health of their members.
We review naturalistic studies of short-term biopsychosocial processes as they unfold within the family.
Day-to-day fluctuations in stressors, demands, and social and emotional experiences in the family are reflected in short-term changes in adult members’ affect and in the activity of biological stress-response systems, particularly the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis.
To learn how family environments are linked to health, researchers should study the interlacing of different aspects of the everyday lives of family members, including their physiology, emotions, behavior, activities, and experiences.
KeywordsStress Health Family Couples Cortisol Daily Naturalistic Spillover HPA axis
The authors are grateful to Elinor Ochs and the other members of the UCLA Center on the Everyday Life of Families for creating a collaborative and supportive intellectual climate that advanced our work on this topic and to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for funding the center over many years. Shu-wen Wang’s work on this paper was supported by a Dissertation Year Fellowship and the Dr. Ursula Mandel Scholarship, both awarded by the UCLA Graduate Division. Darby Saxbe’s work on the paper was funded by Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral National Research Service Award from NICHD.
Conflict of Interest Statement
The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.
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