Chronic illness and subjective well-being of family members -conference paper abstract-

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health


Cara L. Booker and Amanda Sacker

Publication date


Background The hedonic definition of subjective well-being includes subjective perceptions of moods such as happiness and cognitive judgements of life satisfaction coupled with an absence of negative feelings. Little is known about levels of well-being in the context of adaptation to chronic illness. This paper will explore the impact of chronic illness on the well-being of family members.
Methods Data come from wave 1 of Understanding Society, a new longitudinal UK-representative household panel survey. Subjective well-being of adults (16 years) was measured using the GHQ-12, the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale and a question on life satisfaction. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire measured well-being in youth (aged 10–15 years). Self-reported long-term limiting illness (LLTI) was used to indicate chronic illness. Latent variable models were used to explore associations between partners (N=4167) and among family members (n=3056).
Results LLTI in one member of a cohabiting partnership was negatively associated not only with their own well-being but also that of their partner. There were no differences by gender. The association between a parent's LLTI and their adult child's well-being was not significant, regardless of the gender of the parent. There was a significant association between mother's LLTI and SDQ total difficulties score for younger children; however no association was observed for father's Illness.
Conclusions There are associations between one's own illness on both themselves and their partners. A parent's LLTI was not associated with worse well-being in adult children but was associated with increased difficulties in their younger children.

Volume and page numbers

65, 227-228





Well Being and Health



IEA World Congress of Epidemiology, 7–11 August 2011, Edinburgh International Conference Centre, Edinburgh