What's love got to do with it? Couples, illness, and MFT

Mary E. Dankoski, Shobha Pais

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Marital interaction and health issues exert reciprocal influences upon each other, often differing along gender lines. Research shows that couple dynamics influence the immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems, and self-reported health status; and medical problems can affect all areas of a couple's functioning, including communication, sexual and emotional intimacy, and role flexibility, for example. Many practicing marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are not familiar with these issues, since medical family therapy is a fairly new concept and many MFT programs do not cover such areas in depth. This paper will provide a broad overview of how medical issues affect couples and vice versa, will explore the impact of breast cancer on a couple's functioning as a disease-specific example, and will include recommendations for practicing clinicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-43
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Couple and Relationship Therapy
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 25 2007


  • Behavioral medicine
  • Biopsychosocial model
  • Health outcomes
  • Marital interaction
  • Marriage and family therapy
  • Medical family therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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