Positive health behaviors (e.g., exercise, healthy eating habits, good sleep hygiene, treatment adherence) are important in ensuring optimal symptom management and health outcomes among individuals living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). While multiple factors may influence engagement in health behaviors, little is known about the occurrence of social control, or relationship partners’ attempts to influence and regulate another’s behavior, and its potential role in the adoption of health behaviors among individuals with PD.
To better understand the types of social control attempts employed and begin to explore the association between social control attempts and behavioral responses (e.g., engage in the targeted health behavior, hide the behavior) to those attempts, survey data were drawn from a cross-sectional, pilot study of married/partnered Veterans diagnosed with idiopathic PD (n = 25). Participants completed self-reported measures of sociodemographics, physical and mental well-being, relationship functioning, and both the frequency of and behavioral responses to positive and negative social control attempts.
Although the majority of individuals reported their partners engaged in positive social control attempts, half also reported negative attempts. Bivariate analyses revealed more frequent positive social control attempts from one’s partner were related to both positive and negative behavioral responses, and negative social control attempts were related to negative behavioral responses. However, when adjusting for covariates, positive social control attempts were related to positive behavioral responses, while negative social exchanges with one’s partner (e.g., general conflict), rather than exposure to negative social control attempts, were related to negative behavioral responses.
Findings lend preliminary evidence of the relationship between social control and exchanges and health behavior that may inform future, adequately powered observational and intervention studies that target interpersonal processes and health behaviors among individuals living with PD and their relationship partners.