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Affective concordance in couples: A cross-sectional analysis of depression and anxiety consultations within a population of 13,507 couples in primary care

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jenny Liddle



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


BackgroundDepression and anxiety are common and have a significant impact on the individual and wider society. One theory proposed to explain a heightened risk for depression and anxiety is affective concordance in couples (e.g. influence of shared mood states, shared health beliefs). Whilst research has shown concordance for severe psychiatric illnesses and general mood in couples, little attention has been given to concordance for common psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety. The aims of this study were to test affective concordance in couples and examine potential influences on concordance.MethodsStudy design is a 1-year cross-sectional study of anxiety and depression consultations in primary care. Data were obtained from a validated primary care database of recorded consultations. Outcome was the presence of an anxiety or depression Read Code (GP recorded reason for consultation) in the female (within the couple dyad), and exposure was a recorded Read Code of anxiety or depression in the male. Logistic regression was used to test associations with odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) reported. Statistical adjustment was carried out on potential influences of concordance; age, environment (deprivation), healthcare behaviour (consultation frequency), and comorbidity.ResultsA population of 13,507 couples were identified in which 927 people consulted for anxiety and 538 for depression. Logistic regression showed a 3 times increase in odds of an anxiety consultation in females if their male partner had also consulted OR 2.98 (95% CI 2.15 to 4.13). For depression females were over 4 times the odds of consulting if their male partner had also consulted OR 4.45 (95% CI 2.79 to 7.09). Adjustment within a multivariable model showed some reduction in odds; concordant anxiety was reduced to 2.5 times odds OR 2.48 (95%CI 1.76 to 3.50) and depression reduced to OR 3.39 (2.07 to 5.54).ConclusionResults show significant associations for affective concordance in couples. Factors influencing concordance are comorbidity and environmental factors, however reasons for deciding to consult (positive or negative) are unknown. This study highlights the patients’ social context as a factor in consultations for anxiety and depression and gives support to the consideration of the patient’s household as an influence on mental health.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Walker J, Liddle J, Jordan KP, Campbell P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMC Psychiatry

Year: 2017

Volume: 17

Online publication date: 19/05/2017

Acceptance date: 12/05/2017

Date deposited: 22/05/2017

ISSN (electronic): 1471-244X

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.


DOI: 10.1186/s12888-017-1354-7


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