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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume (Issue) 110
Page(s) 61 - 67
Title of proceedings Journal of Psychosomatic Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2018.04.009


OBJECTIVE: Persons with physical disabilities and their caregiving partners are at an increased risk of experiencing reduced life satisfaction. One potential explanation for this trend may be the potentially harmful effects of loneliness and poor relationship quality which this population often experience. To date, little is known about how the perceptions of loneliness and relationship quality affect life satisfaction in the disability and caregiving setting, furthermore the directionality of effect is not well understood. In this study, we investigate the actor and partner effects, and the reciprocal effects of loneliness and relationship quality on life satisfaction. METHODS: The analyses are based on longitudinal dyadic data from a Swiss community survey of persons with spinal cord injury (SCI) and their partners (n = 246). We employed mixed effects modelling to explore standardized (β) and unstandardized (B) actor and partner effects, and used cross-lagged path analysis to explore reciprocal effects. RESULTS: Loneliness was more prevalent in persons with SCI than in their caregiving partners. In caregiving partners, we found significant negative actor effects of loneliness (β = -0.20 (-0.31, -0.10)) and positive actor effects of relationship quality (β = 0.15 (0.04, 0.26)) on life satisfaction, and significant partner effects of relationship quality on wellbeing. In persons with SCI, only the negative actor effect of loneliness was significant (β = -0.30 (-0.41, -0.18)). Over time, loneliness demonstrated reciprocal associations with life satisfaction. CONCLUSION: The findings of our study highlight the importance of reducing loneliness and strengthening relationship quality to improve life satisfaction in partnerships of persons coping with disability.