People with chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes may suffer physical repercussions if they get into a fight with their spouse, according to a new study.
The findings, published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine, suggests that in two groups of older individuals, one group with arthritis and one with diabetes, the patients who felt more tension with their spouse also reported worse symptoms on those days.
"The findings gave us an insight into how marriage might affect health, which is important for people dealing with chronic conditions like arthritis or diabetes," said co-author Lynn Martire, Professor at Pennsylvania State University in the US.
People with osteoarthritis in their knees who experience greater pain become disabled quicker, and people with diabetes that is not controlled have a greater risk for developing complications, the researcher said.
For the study, the researchers recruited a group of 145 patients with osteoarthritis in the knee and their spouses. The other included 129 patients with Type 2 diabetes and their spouses.
The participants in both groups kept daily diaries about their mood, how severe their symptoms were, and whether their interactions with their spouse were positive or negative. The participants in the arthritis and diabetes groups kept their diaries for 22 and 24 days, respectively.
The researchers found that within both groups of participants, patients were in a worse mood on days when they felt more tension than usual with their spouse, which in turn led to greater pain or severity of symptoms.
The researchers also found that within the group with arthritis, the severity of the patient's pain also had an effect on tensions with their spouse the following day.
When they had greater pain, they were in a worse mood and had greater tension with their partner the next day, the researcher added.