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Perceived partner responsiveness, pain, and sleep: A dyadic study of military-connected couples

APA Citation:

O’Neill, A. S., Mohr, C. D., Bodner, T. E., & Hammer, L. B. (2020). Perceived partner responsiveness, pain, and sleep: A dyadic study of military-connected couples. Health Psychology, 39(12), 1089-1099. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/hea0001035

Abstract Created by REACH:

Couples (N = 162), consisting of a Veteran and a civilian spouse, completed a baseline questionnaire and daily questionnaires for 32 days to examine how partner responsiveness (i.e., feeling understood by one’s partner) was associated with each partner’s health (i.e., personal pain, personal sleep quality). To explain the association between health and perceived partner responsiveness, each partner’s positive (e.g., relaxation) and negative emotions (e.g., loneliness) were assessed. Perceived partner responsiveness was generally associated with better health outcomes for both partners through positive and negative emotions.


Physical health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Longitudinal Study
Qualitative Study


O'Neill, AnnaMarie S., Mohr, Cynthia D., Bodner, Todd E., Hammer, Leslie B.


Objective: The health-promoting influence of supportive close relationships has been extensively documented, yet the mechanisms of this effect are still being clarified. Leading researchers have theorized that examining particular interpersonal interactions and the mediating intrapersonal processes they facilitate is the key to understanding how close relationships benefit health. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of perceived partner responsiveness (PPR) on pain and sleep quality via affect in a sample of veterans and spouses (collectively called military-connected couples). Method: Military-connected couples (N = 162) completed 32 days of daily diaries. Mediated actor-partner interdependence models were conducted using multilevel structural equation modeling to assess the effects of PPR at baseline on the daily levels of positive affect, negative affect, pain, and sleep across the following 32 days. Results: Indirect effects emerged such that affect mediated the association between PPR and pain for veterans only whereas affect mediated the association between PPR and sleep quality for both partners. Daily direct effects emerged as well; for example, positive affect was positively associated with higher sleep quality for both partners and lower pain for veterans. Partner effects were revealed such as veteran PPR was positively associated with spouse positive affect. Overall, greater PPR was associated with positive health outcomes for military-connected couples. Conclusion: The implications of this study include providing insights for couple-oriented interventions for preventing and treating pain and sleep problems in couples who are at high risk of these health problems such as military-connected couples. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

American Psychological Association

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Psychology, Portland State University, AMSO
Department of Psychology, Portland State University, CDM
Department of Psychology, Portland State University, TEB
Department of Psychology, Portland State University, LBH


couples, interpersonal relationships, intimacy, military personnel, military Veterans, pain, partners, positive emotions, sleep, spouses, test construction

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  September 2021

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