Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 45, Issue 3, pp 338–347 | Cite as

Consistency and Timing of Marital Transitions and Survival During Midlife: the Role of Personality and Health Risk Behaviors

  • Ilene C. SieglerEmail author
  • Beverly H. Brummett
  • Peter Martin
  • Michael J. Helms
Original Article



Marital status is associated with survival.


The aims of this study are to evaluate marital history and timing on mortality during midlife, test the role of pre-marital personality, and quantify the role of health risk behaviors.


Cox proportional hazard models were run with varying classifications of marital history and sets of covariates.


In fully adjusted models compared to the currently married, lifetime marital history predicts premature mortality with never married at 2.33 times risk of death and ever married at 1.64 risk of death. Midlife marital history shows that not having a partner during midlife (hazard ratio (HR) = 3.10 formerly married; HR = 2.59 remaining single) has the highest risk of death. Controlling for personality and health risk behaviors reduces but does not eliminate the impact of marital status.


Consistency of marital status during midlife suggests that lack of a partner is associated with midlife mortality.


Marital history Midlife mortality Longitudinal study UNC Alumni Heart Study 



This study has been funded by Marchionne Foundation, R01-HL55356 from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute with co-funding from the National Institute on Aging, R01 AG12458 from the National Institute on Aging, P01 HL36587 from National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and from the Duke Behavioral Medicine Research Center. We would like to thank Christin Ogle for her comments on this manuscript.

Conflict of Interest

The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilene C. Siegler
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Beverly H. Brummett
    • 1
  • Peter Martin
    • 2
  • Michael J. Helms
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department of Human Development and Family StudiesIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  3. 3.Behavioral Medicine Research CenterDurhamUSA

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