DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): A Study of African American Marriage and Health
This application seeks support for a study of 780 newlywed African American couples. We are requesting funding for 5 years to begin an in-depth examination of the first few years of marriage. This study will provide a rare opportunity for the study of intrapersonal, interpersonal, familial, and contextual influences on marital and health trajectories during early and middle adulthood of African Americans. To date, marital and health research has largely neglected African American adults and there is a pressing need to understand the marital and health (both mental and physical) consequences of their unique experiences. The primary goal of this research is to examine the effect of social, familial, economic, occupational, and psychological factors on marital and health outcomes, as study participants transition through the newlywed phase of their relationships. About 47 percent of the African American population in the United States is married, compared to 81 percent of the White population, 82 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders, and 69 percent of Latinos. Moreover, African Americans are more likely to experience marital dissolution than any other racial/ethnic group. Among African Americans, the divorce rate is more than 75 percent higher than that of Whites or Latinos. The first 3 years of marriage are therefore critical time periods to study changes in marriage, particularly for African Americans, given the lower rate at which they enter marital unions and their higher rate of marital dissolution. Marriage has been shown to be associated with health. African Americans have the highest death rates for head disease, diabetes, pneumonia, and all cancers. Therefore, it is particularly important to study the health and marriage of African Americans. By focusing only on African Americans and examining within group variability, we will be better able to explore factors uniquely associated with African American marriage and health (mental/physical) that are otherwise obscured when multiple racial/ethnic groups are combined in analyses. Working with a sample of African Americans is a key part of this study, not only because critics have questioned the generalizability of findings obtained from research on White couples, but also because the romantic relationships and health of African Americans have been understudied.