Affect covariation in marital couples dealing with stressors surrounding prostate cancer

Cynthia A. Berg, Deborah J. Wiebe, Jonathan Butner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Consistent with a dyadic perspective to coping with chronic illness, couples may experience covariation in their daily affective experiences, particularly as they deal with stressful events surrounding chronic illness, such as prostate cancer. Objective: Our purpose was to examine the daily covariation of negative and positive affect among husbands and wives and whether this covariation was enhanced when couples mentioned the same stressful event and reported frequently collaborating. Methods: Fifty-nine husbands diagnosed as having prostate cancer and their wives participated in a daily diary where they reported on the most stressful event of the day, positive and negative affect, coping strategies and whether their spouse was involved in a collaborative manner. Coders independently made judgments as to whether the stressful event mentioned by husbands and wives was the same. Results: Multivariate hierarchical linear models revealed that on days when wives experienced greater negative affect, husbands did so as well. However, negative affect covariation was only found when spouses mentioned the same daily stressful event. The mean levels of collaborative coping across the 14 days moderated this negative covariation effect for wives, such that negative affect covariation was enhanced when wives reported collaborating more frequently. Positive affect covariation was not found. Conclusion: The results reveal that negative affect covariation may be most likely when spouses experience similar stressors and wives perceive frequently collaborating. Partners within close relationships experience similar negative affect as their spouse, pointing to the shared nature of illness in late life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)167-172
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011


  • Affect covariation
  • Diary methods
  • Dyadic coping
  • Marital couples
  • Older couples
  • Prostate cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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