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American Journal of Men's Health

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Fathers -- Health behavior, Male caregivers, Relationship quality


Men in the U.S. are increasingly involved in their children’s lives and currently represent 40% of informal caregivers to dependent relatives or friends aged 18 years or older. Yet, much more is known about the health effects of varying family role occupancies for women relative to men. The present research sought to fill this empirical gap by first comparing the health behavior (sleep duration, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, fast food consumption) of men who only occupy partner roles and partnered men who also fill father, informal caregiver, or both father and informal caregiver (i.e., sandwiched) roles. The moderating effects of perceived partner relationship quality, conceptualized here as partner support and strain, on direct family role-health behavior linkages were also examined. Secondary analysis of survey data from 366 cohabiting and married men in the Work, Family and Health Study indicated that men’s multiple family role occupancies were generally not associated with health behavior. With men continuing to take on more family responsibilities, as well as the serious health consequences of unhealthy behavior, the implications of these null effects are encouraging: additional family roles can be integrated into cohabiting and married men’s role repertoires without health behavior risks. Moderation analysis revealed, however, that men’s perceived partner relationship constituted a significant factor in determining whether multiple family role occupancies had positive or negative consequences for their sleep duration, alcohol consumption, and fast food consumption. These findings are discussed in terms of their empirical and practical implications for partnered men and their families.


This is the authors' version of an article that was subsequently published in final, edited form in the American Journal of Men's Health, vol. 12, no. 6: 2006-2017. May be found at

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