Effect of marital status on duration of treatment for mental illness


  • Zheng Wu University of Victoria
  • Christoph M. Schimmele University of Victoria
  • Margaret J. Penning University of Victoria
  • Chi Zheng
  • Samuel Noh




mental illness, mental health, marital status, social causation, social selection


There is a well-established link between marital status and mental health, but previous research has produced mixed results about the reasons for this relationship. Some studies propose that marriage provides protection from stressors and increases personal coping abilities (the causation perspective), whereas other studies argue that marriage markets “weed out” individuals predisposed to illness (the selection perspective). This article addresses the causation-versus-selection debate by examining the effect of marital status on duration of treatment for mental illness. The empirical analysis uses longitudinal data and GEE models to estimate group-level differences in duration of treatment. The results suggest that marriage does not appear to confer a health advantage in terms of duration of treatment. However, the study demonstrates that the never-married experience longer treatment time than the married, divorced, and widowed.

Author Biography

Zheng Wu, University of Victoria

Department of Sociology