Relationship quality and levels of depression and anxiety in a large population-based survey




Leach, L. S.
Butterworth, Peter
Olesen, Sarah C.
Mackinnon, Andrew

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Springer Verlag


PURPOSE: There is substantial literature suggesting that the mental health benefits of marriage (compared to being single) are greater for those in 'good quality' relationships in comparison to those in 'poor quality' relationships. However, little of this research utilises large population-based surveys. Large surveys in psychiatric epidemiology have focused almost exclusively on the association between marital status and mental health. The current study explores some of the reasons for this gap in the literature, and adopts a large, representative community-based sample to investigate whether associations between relationship status and levels of depression and anxiety are moderated by relationship quality. METHODS: Participants were from Wave 3 of the PATH Survey, a longitudinal community survey assessing the health and well-being of residents of the Canberra region, Australia (n=3820). Relationship quality was measured using the 7 item Dyadic Adjustment Scale (DAS-7), and levels of depression and anxiety were measured using the Goldberg Scales. RESULTS: Both cross-sectional and prospective analyses showed that associations between relationship status and mental health were moderated by relationship quality for both men and women, such that only good quality relationships bestowed mental health benefits over remaining single. For women, being in a poor quality relationship was associated with greater levels of anxiety than being single. CONCLUSIONS: Epidemiological studies need to measure relationship quality to qualify the effect of relationship status on mental health.



anxiety, depression, relationship quality, population survey



Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology 48.3 (2013): 417-425


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