Study finds ‘satisfying’ relationships keep middle-aged women healthy

The study found that strong social relationships may be the key to a healthy life for middle-aged women. It has been suggested that women who have “satisfactory” relationships with partners, friends and colleagues are less likely to develop chronic diseases later in life.

The researchers found that women who reported the lowest level of satisfaction with their relationships had twice the risk of developing multiple diseases compared to those who reported the highest level.

The study examined data from nearly 7,700 women in Australia.

At the start of the project in 1996, the participants were free from chronic diseases and were between 45 and 50 years old. Every three years, they reported their level of satisfaction with their partners, family members, friends, work and social groups.

The women were followed for 20 years to see if they developed diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, depression and anxiety.

During the follow-up period, approximately 58 percent of the women developed more than one of the conditions.

Those who reported strong social relationships were said to be less likely to get sick.

The report, written by experts from the University of Queensland Brisbane, says: “Our findings have important implications for chronic disease management and intervention.

“At the individual level, these implications may help counsel women on the benefits of starting or maintaining quality and varied social relationships in middle and early adulthood.

“Social connections should be seen as a public health priority in chronic disease prevention.

“Interventions aimed at improving the quality of social relationships may be effective in preventing the progression of chronic conditions.”

The results are published in the journal General Psychiatry.

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