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Spousal influence on mammography screening: A life course perspective

  • Missinne, Sarah
  • Colman, Elien
  • Bracke, Piet
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    Recently, researchers have challenged the basic tenet that marriage is universally protective for all individuals. We scrutinize socio-economic differences between married couples to shed light on the mechanisms underlying the effects of marriage. We introduce the life course perspective to investigate if differences in positive health behavior between couples are related to their early life conditions. Within the theoretical framework of cultural health capital, we hypothesize that the accumulation of cultural health capital proceeds at the marriage level when partners provide each other with health-related information and norms. For this purpose, we examine the influence of the childhood preventive health care behavior of both wives and husbands on the initiation of mammography screening for a sample of Belgian women (N = 734). Retrospective life histories of both partners are provided by the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement (SHARE) and are examined by means of event history analysis. The results show that a partner's cultural health capital affects the initiation of mammography screening by a woman in later life, even after her own cultural health capital and traditional measures of socio-economic status (SES) are taken into account. In line with cumulative advantage theory, it seems that inequalities in cultural health capital are accumulated at the marriage level. In order to shed further light on the spousal influence on health behavior, researchers should revert to early life in order to discern the attribution of premarital and marital conditions.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 98 (2013)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 63-70

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:98:y:2013:i:c:p:63-70
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