Support behavior and relationship satisfaction in couples dealing with diabetes: main and moderating effects

Marike C Schokker, Ilse Stuive, Jelte Bouma, Joost C Keers, Thera P Links, Bruce H R Wolffenbuttel, Robbert Sanderman, Mariët Hagedoorn

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    This study examined associations between support behavior, i.e. active engagement and protective buffering, and relationship satisfaction in both patients with diabetes and their partners. Active engagement refers to supportive behavior characterized by involving one's partner in discussions, asking how the other feels, and problem solving strategies. Protective buffering refers to less supportive behavior characterized by denying fears and worries, and by pretending everything is fine. Furthermore, we examined whether there were interactive effects of these two support behaviors on patients' and partners' relationship satisfaction. At baseline (T1), 205 couples rated to which degree they received active engagement and protective buffering from their partners, and completed a measure of relationship satisfaction. At three follow-up assessments, couples were asked to fill out the same measures. Using dyadic data analytic approaches, we found relationship satisfaction to be positively associated with active engagement, and negatively with protective buffering, in both patients and partners. Moreover, we found a moderating effect, in that the negative association between protective buffering and relationship satisfaction was only present when levels of active engagement were relatively low. Again, these results were found for patients as well as their partners. We were able to replicate the T1 results at the other three assessment points. Our findings illustrate the need to consider adequate and less adequate support behaviors simultaneously, and to study the effects on both patients and partners.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)578-586
    JournalJournal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43)
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


    • adaptation, psychological
    • chronic diseases
    • diabetes mellitus
    • longitudinal studies
    • dyadic analysis
    • relationship satisfaction
    • spousal support


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