Spouse Encouragement of self-reliance and other-reliance in rheumatoid arthritis couples

John W. Reich, Alex J. Zautra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Studying and helping couples burdened with a major life stressor such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be enhanced by employing well-understood conceptual and empirical frameworks, in our research person/environment fit (P×E) models. We measured P×E effects in a sample of 62 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients with locus of control beliefs, age, and the health status of the subjects as the Person variables and their spouses' control encouragement as the Environment variable. As predicted, externals were most sensitive to their spouses' behavior. Health status and age moderated the effects of the subjects' control beliefs and spouses' control efforts. Control encouragement showed positive benefits, but only for the younger and healthier subjects; it was related to increased psychological distress for externals in poorer health. Although many models of therapy suggest the benefits of increasing personal control, these data suggest the necessity of employing a more complex model integrating both person and social environment variables in understanding mental health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-260
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 1995


  • age
  • control
  • distress
  • health
  • social influence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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