Marital dissolution and distress in a psychiatric population: A longitudinal design

S. R.H. Beach, P. B. Harris, K. C. Winters, S. Weintraub

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There has been interest in recent years in the relationship between marital distress and psychopathology. It has been rare, however, for investigators to follow patients after their release from the hospital and observe the course of their marital relationships. The present study included patients meeting criteria for three DSM III disorders (major depressive, bipolar, and schizophrenic) and a normal control sample, all of whom are participants in an ongoing longitudinal study of children at risk for psychopathology. Marital Adjustment Test scores were collected on patients at entry into the project (Phase I) and at a three year follow-up (Phase II). Course of marriage was defined as negative if the couple's marital adjustment was rated as poor at Phase II or resulted in divorce or separation at Phase II. It was found that only the depressed group differed from the normal group in having significantly worse course of marital relationship; 84% of the depressive couples showed a 'negative' course of marital change over time. However, all three patient groups had significantly higher rates of divorce by Phase II. MAT scores at Phase I successfully predicted course of marital relationship for all diagnostic groups. Implications for aftercare of psychiatric inpatients are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-229
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioral Residential Treatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1986


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