A.R. Turagabeci, K. Nakamura, M. Kizuki, & T. Takano.
Health & Quality of Life Outcomes (2007): 5(61); 1-9
Family is a “social determinant of health”, which means that it has a powerful influence on people’s state of overall well-being. But this is a complicated issue, as “family” means different things to different people. Some people experience family dynamics that are incredibly challenging, while for others, family is the rock that provides support across mental, physical, and spiritual domains. Modern family structure is complex and highly variable, and it’s important to understand how different structures and characteristics influence our state of health.
This study looked at how different types of family structures are associated with measures of general health to see which factors support positive health outcomes.
Who was it?
There were 386 subjects between the ages of 20 and 60 who lived in communities in Japan. Subjects lived in a variety of family structures, including living alone, as a couple, in a nuclear family, or in an extended family.
What was done?
Survey data was gathered about health measures including fatigue, stress, health concerns, and mental health. Objective physical health measurements were also taken, including blood pressure, height and weight. Family structure characteristics and lifestyle and social support were also assessed.
People living alone were the most likely to experience ill health. Living alone or in a couple increased the risk of severe hypertension as compared to living in an extended family. People who lived in a couple or a family that showed concern for their well-being were less likely to have poor mental health than those who lived with people that did not show concern.
When it comes to health, community matters, especially in the form of family. This isn’t surprising, since for most of us, family is who we spend most of our time with. Simply living with other people (preferably a few) is enough to make us healthier, but it’s even better when we live with people who show that they care for us. This study shows that health really is a team effort!