Name:  Hannah Brazeau

Area of Study: Health

In what program are you currently enrolled? PhD

What year of the program are you currently in? 4

Citation in APA format

Brazeau, H., & Lewis, N. A. (2021). Within-couple health behavior trajectories: The role of spousal support and strain. Health Psychology, 40(2), 125–134.

Plain language abstract:

The current study examined the associations between health behavior engagement within couples, as well as the extent to which perceiving support or strain from a spouse influenced health behavior engagement. To do this, data from 5,233 couples in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing were used to examine trajectories of physical activity, smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption, and alcohol use over a period of up to 12 years. Partners reported similar initial levels of each health behavior and tended to show similar occasion-to-occasion changes. Higher spousal support predicted increased engagement in physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption in men. Relationship strain appeared to be more impactful to female health behaviors, being associated with alcohol and tobacco use for female but not male partners. Despite romantic partners reporting similar baseline health habits, the long-term trajectories of most health behaviors were not similar for romantic partners. However, spouses did exhibit similar occasion-to-occasion variability. Further, spousal support and relationship strain differentially impacted men and women’s health behavior engagement.

How did the idea for this research come about? 

After my coauthor and I had published a paper examining social support and purpose in life using data from the Health and Retirement study, I was looking to get involved in another large-scale project looking at social support. Given our combined interest in health, I immediately asked if he would be interested in conducting a study examining social support and health behavior trajectories in couples. He jumped on the opportunity and recommended that we look at using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

How did you collect the data for this project? 

The data used for this project was taken from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). ELSA is a longitudinal panel study of English adults over the age of 50 and their spouses beginning in 2002, with follow-up assessments occurring roughly every 2 years. The original sample of participants was recruited from households assessed in the nationally representative Health Survey for England between 1998 and 2001, with additional refreshment samples added in 2006, 2008, and 2012. To date, ELSA has collected data from over 17,000 participants on topics such as health, family structure, economic and retirement planning, social networks, and genetics.

Was the journal you published in the first journal you submitted this paper to?


Why did you choose this journal?

We chose to submit our manuscript to Health Psychology as we believed that the aim of the journal fit well with the content of our study. We also believed that this journal had an impact factor that reflected that quality of work that we were presenting within our manuscript.

How many other journals did you submit this paper to before it landed in the journal that eventually published your work?


What was your revision experience?

Our revision process was quite positive. We received a decision letter that indicated that we were accepted with a revision condition. Within the letter, the reviewers provided very detailed revision requests that were easy to include within the manuscript. Specifically, we were asked to conduct a few additional analyses and add a few theoretical frameworks into the introduction to better reflect the current state of the literature.

How many rounds of revision did you experience?


Did you need to collect new data to satisfy a reviewer?


How long did it take from first submission to acceptance? 

It took approximately 8 months.

Was this paper conducted as part of your MA thesis?


Was this paper conducted as part of your PhD dissertation?


How did this project come about?

I have always tried to conduct additional research outside of the work that I am conducting for my degree program. So, when this project came up, I was more than happy to begin working on another study that sparked my interest.

Was this research conducted with your supervisor?


Was this research conducted with fellow graduate students in our program? 


Was this research conducted with researchers external to Carleton?

Yes, with Nathan A. Lewis, who is currently completing his doctorate at the University of Victoria.

You can access the article here.