Concordance in partners’ health behaviours around a diabetes diagnosis: results from the Lifelines Cohort Study

  • R. Burns
  • J. Fillo
  • S. Deschenes
  • N. Schmitz


Objective: To examine the possible influence of spouse health behaviour on the health behaviour and wellbeing of a person who has recently been diagnosed with diabetes. Methods: Data came from the first three assessment waves (i.e., questionnaires) of the Lifelines Cohort Study, a cohort study in the Netherlands. Data were collected at three time points approximately 1.5 years apart (baseline, follow-up 1, follow-up 2). These analyses include 155 couples in which one partner was diagnosed with diabetes during the second assessment wave (i.e., questionnaire). The health behaviours examined were self-reported frequency of eating breakfast and engaging in physical activity. Dyads were distinguishable, so Pearson correlations examined associations between partners’ health behaviours before and after diagnosis. Findings: On average, individuals with diabetes were 55.4 years old (SD = 10.5) at baseline. Preliminary findings indicate that before diagnosis, partners were concordant on both behaviours (breakfast r=.30, p <.001; physical activity r=.22, p=.008). This concordance remained soon after diagnosis (breakfast r=.14, p=.01; physical activity r=.23, p=.005) and 1.5 years later (breakfast r=.23, p= 004; physical activity r= 21, p=.009). Discussion: This study suggests that the behaviours of individuals with newly-diagnosed diabetes is associated with those of their partners. Future work will examine change over time in these health behaviours. This study contributes to a broader literature that highlights the importance of considering dyadic influences on health behaviour change.