Text Size

Make A Gift Donation


Event Speakers

IOA Newsletter,

Cover of Aging News


MIDUS Inequality newsletter cover


Nadine Marks

Nadine F. Marks

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
Professor Emerita, Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Psychosocial Influences on Physical and Mental Health in Adulthood

My research is motivated by an interest in how a number of psychosocial factors--psychological factors, socioeconomic status, social relationship quality, caregiving, family structure, the work/family interface--influence adult physical and mental health and development. I seek to understand how gender and age moderate the importance of these various factors in determining health. Life course and ecological theoretical perspectives guide my work. Working with the research teams collecting data for the Wisconsin Longitudinal Survey, the National Survey of Families and Households, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Research Network on Successful Midlife Development's National Survey of Midlife Development in the United States is currently providing me with a wealth of excellent new longitudinal as well as cross-sectional population data useful for addressing my research objectives.

Lower socioeconomic status, for example, has been consistently associated with poorer mental and physical health. Some of my recent research examines potential explanations for these differentials--e.g., psychological well-being factors, social relationship quality differences, work quality differences, differences in work/family conflict, differences in family social responsibility commitments. I have also been examining socioeconomic status differentials in health outcomes unique to women--e.g., hysterectomy rates and the use of hormone therapy.

Examining contemporary marital status differences in well-being at midlife, I have found that marriage remains a beneficial factor for both men's and women's psychological health, although single adults do demonstrate some developmental advantages in terms of increased self-perceived autonomy and personal growth.

In evaluating differences in the well-being effects of giving social support (including caregiving) as well as receiving social support, I have been looking for evidence that the experience of giving is at least as beneficial as the experience of receiving. Analyzing the effects of caregiving for kin and nonkin with disabilities, I have found evidence that reducing work/family conflict for caregiving adults would significantly decrease the negative effects of giving care for adults and increase positive effects on psychological well-being and development. I have also discovered that while transitions to caregiving for close family members can lead to some declines in mental health (e.g., more depression), caregiving in some cases (e.g., for friends) also leads to improvements in mental health (e.g., more purpose in life).

Representative Publications
Kang, S., & Marks, N. F. (2016). Marital strain exacerbates health risks of filial caregiving: Evidence from the 2005 national Survey of Midlife in the United States. Journal of Family Issues, 37(8), 1123-1150.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/0192513x14526392

Kang, S., & Marks, N. F. (2014). Filial caregiving is associated with greater neuroendocrine dysfunction: Evidence from the 2005 National Survey of Midlife in the US. SAGE Open Medicine. Advance online publication.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/2050312113520152

Kang, S., & Marks, N. F. (2014). Parental caregiving for a child with special needs, marital strain, and physical health: Evidence from National Survey of Midlife in the U.S. 2005. In J. H. McCormick and S. L. Blair (Eds.), Family relationships and familial responses to health issues.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1108/S1530-35352014000008A006

Choi, H., & Marks, N. F. (2013). Marital quality, socioeconomic status, and physical health. Journal of Marriage and Family, 75(4), 903-919.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1111/jomf.12044

Choi, H., & Marks, N. F. (2011). Socioeconomic status, marital status trajectory, marital conflict, and mortality. Journal of Aging and Health, 23, 714-42.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/0898264310393339

Greenfield, E. A., & Marks, N. F. (2010). Sense of community as a protective factor against long-term psychological effects of childhood violence. Social Service Review, 84(1), 129-147.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1086/652786

Greenfield, E. A., & Marks, N. F. (2010). Identifying experiences of physical and psychological violence in childhood that jeopardize mental health in adulthood. Child Abuse & Neglect, 34(3), 161-171.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1016/j.chiabu.2009.08.012

Marks, N.F., & Song, J. (2009). Compassionate love and compassionate acts across the lifecourse: Results from U. S. national studies. In L. Underwood, S. Sprecher, & B. Fehr (Eds.), The science of compassionate love: Research, theory and application (pp. 121-158). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Greenfield, E.A., & Marks, N.F. (2009). Violence from parents in childhood and obesity in adulthood: Using food in response to stress as a mediator of risk. Social Science & Medicine, 68, 791-798.
Click here to download this publication.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2008.12.004

Greenfield, E. A., Vaillant, G. E., & Marks, N. F. (2009). Do formal religious participation and spiritual perceptions have independent linkages with diverse dimensions of psychological well-being? J. Health Soc. Behav., 50(2), 196-212.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/002214650905000206

Greenfield, E. A., & Marks, N. F. (2009). Profiles of physical and psychological violence in childhood as a risk factor for poorer adult health: Evidence from the 1995-2005 National Survey of Midlife in the U.S. Journal of Aging & Health, 21(7), 943-966.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/0898264309343905

Marks, N.F., Lambert, J.D., Jun, H., & Song, J. (2008). Psychosocial moderators of the effects of transitioning into fillial caregiving on mental and physical health. Research on Aging, 30, 358-389.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/0164027507312998

Choi, H., & Marks, N.F. (2008). Marital conflict, depressive symptoms, and functional impairment. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70, 377-390.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2008.00488.x

Marks, N.F., & Greenfield, E.A. (2008). The influence of family relationships on adult psychological well-being and generativity. In M.C. Smith & N. DeFrates-Densch (Eds.), The handbook of research on adult learning and development (pp. 303-347). New York: Rutledge.

Greenfield, E.A., & Marks, N.F. (2007). Continuous participation in voluntary groups as a protective factor for the psychological well-being of adults who develop functional limitations: Evidence from the National Survey of Families and Households. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 62B, S60-S68.

Jun, H., & Marks, N.F. (2007). Productive role activity and mental and physical health among older adults. Journal of the Asian Regional Association for Home Economics, 14, 49-61.

Marks, N.F., Jun, H., & Song, J. (2007). Death of parents and adult psychological and physical health: A prospective U.S. national study. Journal of Family Issues, 28(12), 1611-1628.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/0192513X07302728

Song, J., & Marks, N.F. (2007). The effects of marital status and retirement status on mental health among older adults: A longitudinal U.S. national study. Korean Journal of Population Studies, 30(1), 25-4.

Song, J., Marks, N.F., & Han, G. (2007). Work, family, work-family spillover and mental health among working adults: A comparison of Korean and the U.S. national surveys. Family and Culture, 19(2), 61-92.

Greenfield, E.A., & Marks, N.F. (2007). Religious social identity as an explanatory factor for associations between more frequent formal religious participation and psychological well-being. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 17, 245-260.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1080/10508610701402309

Greenfield, E.A., & Marks, N.F. (2006). Linked lives: Adult children's problems and their parents' psychological and relational well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 68, 442-454.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00263.x

Song, J., & Marks, N.F. (2006). Parent-adult child relationships and mental health among older parents: A longitudinal U.S. national study. Journal of the Korean Gerontological Society, 26(3), 581-599.

Choi, H., & Marks, N.F. (2006). Transitions to caregiving, marital disagreement, and psychological well-being: A prospective U.S. national study. Journal of Family Issues, 27, 1701-1722.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/0192513X06291523

Greenfield, E.A., & Marks, N.F. (2004). Formal volunteering as a protective factor for older adults' psychological well-being. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 59B, S258-S264.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1093/geronb/59.5.S258

Han, G., Lee, J., Ryff, C.D., Marks, N.F., Ok, S., & Cha, S. (2003). Health status and health behavior of middle-aged Korean men and women: Gender and age-group differences. Journal of Korean Home Economics Association, 4, 213-229.

Marks, N.F., Lambert, J.D., & Choi, H. (2002). Transitions to caregiving, gender, and psychological well-being: Prospective evidence from a U.S. national study. Journal of Marriage and Family, 64, 657-667.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2002.00657.x

Marks, N.F., & Choi, H. (2002). Social inequalities, psychological well-being, and health: Longitudinal evidence from a U.S. national study. Research on the Sociology of Health Care, 20, 79-106.

Grzywacz, J.G., & Marks, N.F. (2001). Social inequalities, work, family and exercise: Toward an ecological perspective. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42, 202-220.

Marks, N.F., & Shinberg, D.S. (1998). Socioeconomic differences in hormone therapy. American Journal of Epidemiology, 148(6), 581-593.

Marmot, M.G., Fuhrer, R., Ettner, S.L., Marks, N.F., Bumpass, L.L., & Ryff, C.R. (1998). Contribution of psychosocial factors to socioeconomic differences in health. Milbank Quarterly, 76, 403-440.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1111/1468-0009.00097

Marks, N.F., & Lambert, J.D. (1998). Marital status continuity and change among young and midlife adults: Longitudinal effects on psychological well- being. Journal of Family Issues, 19, 652-686.
View publication via DOI: DOI:10.1177/019251398019006001

Marks, N.F. (1998). Does it hurt to care? Caregiving, work-family conflict, and midlife well-being. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 60, 951-966.

Marks, N.F., & Shinberg, D.S. (1997). Socioeconomic differences in hysterectomy: The Wisconsin Longitudinal Study. American Journal of Public Health, 87, 1507-1514.

Marks, N.F. (1996). Caregiving across the lifespan: National prevalence and predictors. Family Relations, 45, 27-36.

Want to find more Publications? Click here to search the publication database

1300 University Avenue
2245 MSC
Madison, WI 53706
PH: 608.262.1818
FAX: 608.263.6211