Marital quality, marital disruption, and immune function.

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Marital disruption is associated with significant increases in a variety of psychologic and physical disorders. In order to examine psychologic and physiologic mediators, self-report data and blood samples were obtained from 38 married women and 38 separated/divorced women. Among married subjects, poorer marital quality was associated with greater depression and a poorer response on three qualitative measures of immune function. Women who had been separated 1 year or less had significantly poorer qualitative and quantitative immune function than their sociodemographically matched married counterparts. Among the separated/divorced cohort, shorter separation periods and greater attachment to the (ex)husband were associated with poorer immune function and greater depression. These data are consistent with epidemiologic evidence linking marital disruption with increased morbidity and mortality.

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