Partner Pain and Affect in the Daily Lives of Older Couples

Sophie Potter, Christina Röcke, Denis Gerstorf, Annette Brose, Karolina Kolodziejczak, Christiane A. Hoppmann, Nilam Ram, Johanna Drewelies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: The susceptibility of older adults' affect to fluctuations in their own health (within-person health sensitivity) indicates how they handle everyday health challenges. In old age, affective well-being is often increasingly influenced by close others, yet it is unknown whether older adults' affect is additionally susceptible to fluctuations in their spouse's health (within-partnership health sensitivity) and the extent to which age and relationship satisfaction moderate such associations. Methods: Parallel sets of multilevel actor-partner interdependence models are applied to self-reported health (feelings of pain/discomfort) and positive and negative affect, obtained 6 times a day over 7 consecutive days from 2 independent samples, the Berlin Couple Dynamics Study (N = 87 couples; Mage = 75 years; M relationship length = 46 years) and the Socio-Economic Panel Couple Dynamics Study (N = 151 couples; Mage = 72 years; M relationship length = 47 years). Results: Husbands and wives had lower positive affect and higher negative affect in moments when they reported more pain (within-person health sensitivity) and when their respective spouse reported more pain (within-partnership health sensitivity). Tests for moderation suggest that within-person, but not within-partnership, health sensitivity is lower at older ages and higher with more satisfying relationships. Discussion: These findings empirically illustrate life-span notions that close relationships shape time-varying health-affect links and thus underscore the theoretical and practical utility of examining social-contextual antecedents of older adults' everyday affective well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1197-1209
Number of pages13
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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