• Article

Heart disease risk information, encouragement, and physical activity among Mexican-origin couples Self- or spouse-driven change?

Family health history is an accessible, clinically-recommended genomic tool that improves health risk evaluation. It captures both genetic and modifiable risk factors that cluster within families. Thus, families represent a salient context for family health history-based interventions that motivate engagement in risk-reducing behaviors. While previous research has explored how individuals respond to their personal risk information, we extend this inquiry to consider how individuals respond to their spouse's risk information among a sample of Mexican-Americans. One hundred and sixty spouse-dyads within Mexican-heritage households received a pedigree or a pedigree and personalized risk assessments, with or without behavioral recommendations. Analyses of Covariance (ANCOVAs) were conducted to assess the relationship between risk feedback, both personal and spouse, and self-reported physical activity levels at 3-month and 10-month assessments, controlling for baseline levels. The effect of being identified as an encourager of spouse's healthy weight was also evaluated. Personal feedback had no effect on participants' physical activity at either 3- or 10-month assessments. However, husbands' risk information was associated with wives' physical activity levels at 3-month assessment, with women whose husbands received both increased risk feedback and behavioral recommendations engaging in significantly higher physical activity levels than all other women. At 10-month follow-up, physical activity levels for both husbands and wives differed depending on whether they encouraged their spouse's healthy weight. Spousal risk information may be a stronger source of motivation to improve physical activity patterns than personal risk information, particularly for women. Interventions that activate interpersonal encouragement among spouses may more successfully extend intervention effects.


Skapinsky, K. F., Persky, S., Lewis, M., Goergen, A., Ashida, S., de Heer, H. D., ... Koehly, L. M. (2018). Heart disease risk information, encouragement, and physical activity among Mexican-origin couples: Self- or spouse-driven change? Translational Behavioral Medicine, 8(1), 95-104. DOI: 10.1093/tbm/ibx012

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