Couples coping with sensory loss: A dyadic study of the roles of self- and perceived partner acceptance

Christine M. Lehane, Tine Nielsen, Walter Wittich, Shelby Langer, Jesper Dammeyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objectives: Hearing-, vision-, and dual-sensory loss have been linked to relational and psychological distress among adults with sensory loss (AWSLs) and their spouses. Regardless, research on factors associated with couples’ adjustment is lacking. This study examined the stability and strength of associations between self-acceptance of sensory loss, perceived partner acceptance of sensory loss, and relationship satisfaction and psychological distress among AWSLs and their spouses over time. Design: A total of 122 AWSLs and their spouses completed an online survey at two time points over a 6-month period. Methods: A multigroup (i.e., time 1 and time 2) actor–partner interdependence model assessed the stability and strength of actor and partner effects of self-acceptance and perceived partner acceptance on each partner's relationship satisfaction and psychological distress over time. Results: No moderation by time was identified, indicating stability in associations over the 6-month period. Overall, both actor and partner effects were evident. Specifically, self-acceptance among AWSLs was inversely associated with own psychological distress and the relationship satisfaction of spouses. Self-acceptance by spouses was inversely associated with the psychological distress of AWSLs and spouses. Perception of spouse acceptance by AWSLs was positively associated with own and spouse relationship satisfaction. Conclusions: Interventions targeting acceptance that incorporate a family systems perspective may be beneficial in alleviating psychological and relational distress among couples coping with sensory loss. Statement of contribution What is already known on this subject? The experience of hearing and/or vision loss has been linked to heightened distress both psychologically and within intimate relationships. Prior research has demonstrated a link between an individual's ability to accept their sensory loss and healthier well-being. What does this study add? This is the first dyadic study of sensory loss acceptance and its link to relationship satisfaction and distress. Acceptance operates interpersonally protecting against distress for those with sensory loss and their spouses. Perceiving that one's spouse accepts the sensory loss is important for both partner's relationship satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)646-664
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Health Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • acceptance
  • dual-sensory loss
  • dyadic analysis
  • hearing loss
  • relationship satisfaction
  • vision loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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