The Benefits of Marriage in Iran

For decades, research has indicated that marital status matters for individuals’ risk of developing certain illnesses—such as cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes—and even seems to impact all-cause mortality. Researchers have long hypothesized that married individuals enjoy less stress and loneliness than do their never-married or divorced/widowed peers, and also tend to exercise better self-care. With such studies as background, scholars out of Tehran seek to better understand how well these effects translate to their own community—i.e., the impact that marital status has on the Iranian population. The researchers open by discussing some important background for their study. “A number of studies,” they write, “conducted on samples from various ethnic groups have reported that rate of all-cause and cause-specific mortality are higher among those who are unmarried, relative to their married counterparts, a relationship which is independent of various sociodemographic characteristics.” “On the other hand,” they continue, “the meanings of marriage, gender roles and family structure have changed considerably over the last few decades,” and “[t]here are limited numbers of prospective studies assessing the associations of marital status and major health outcomes in the Middle East, namely in Iran with the fundamental demographic and cultural changes over the past several decades.” To this end, the researchers glean data from the TLGS cohort database, which followed individuals during the period of 1999 to 2014 to study various health outcomes. The final sample size was 9,737 Iranian adults, and the mean age was 47.6 years. Study participants completed a questionnaire with information on age, marital status, smoking, medication use, and history of cardiovascular disease (CVD). They also indicated if there was any family history of type 2 diabetes and “premature” CVD. “The primary exposure of interest,” the researchers write,
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