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Mental health and satisfaction with partners: a longitudinal analysis in the UK

Downward, P, Rasciute, S and Kumar, H ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5240-9508 (2022) Mental health and satisfaction with partners: a longitudinal analysis in the UK. BMC Psychology, 10 (1). ISSN 2050-7283

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Abstract

Background: Current UK health policy stresses treating health as an asset to underpin and promote a more inclusive and productive society. The quality of personal relationships is essential for overall quality of life. The social determinants of health (SDH) literature shows that poor mental health and well-being are linked to weaker personal and social connections for individuals, families, and society. The causal impact that mental health has on satisfaction with partners is less understood but requires investigation. Methods: The causal relationship between mental health and satisfaction with partners is examined drawing on the United Kingdom’s British Household Panel Survey from 1991 to 2008. A total sample of 9,024 individuals in dyadic couples comprising 42,464 observations was analysed using fixed-effects and instrumental variable fixed-effects panel data estimation. Results: Lower mental health is associated with a lower satisfaction with partners. However, some causal evidence of lower mental health reducing satisfaction with partners is present for males. Discussion: For females, relationship satisfaction is more likely to influence mental health. For males there is a potential ‘vicious circle’ between satisfaction with partners and mental health. Conclusions: Investment in mental health provision can improve satisfaction with partners which in turn will further enhance health and well-being.

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