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    Marriage Pays Health Dividends -- for Him

    Commitment to lifelong relationship appears to be key, study says

    continued...

    And many wives handle doctor appointments for their husbands and oversee other health matters such as medical tests, she added.

    But Smith cautioned that bad relationships aren't healthy. "Strain and disruption in intimate relationships is associated with poor health outcomes," he said.

    As for the effect of relationships on women's health, it seems females are less reliant on men to keep them on a healthy path, Waite said.

    Single women, in particular, "have other sources of support they can turn to like their mother, sister or their friends. Men are less likely to have those sources of support," Waite said.

    For the new study, researchers examined data from a 2011-2012 U.S. survey and focused on three groups of 18- to 64-year-old men -- married men living with a spouse, men who live with a partner of either gender, and single men.

    Overall, about 71 percent said they'd been to the doctor at least once during the past year. For married men, the number was 76 percent, the study found. It fell to 65 percent for single men and 60 percent for men who lived with a partner.

    When insurance was taken into account, about 82 percent of insured married men had seen a doctor within the past 12 months versus three-quarters of single men and 71 percent of cohabiting men, the researchers found.

    Only about 50 percent of cohabiting men had undergone recommended cholesterol and diabetes screenings in the past 12 months, the study found.

    "Men should be seeing a doctor in order to learn if they're still healthy and, if not, catch problems early on," Blumberg said.

    The study findings don't prove there's a connection between marriage -- or bachelorhood -- and visits to the doctor. The research also doesn't show whether the men who went to the doctor more often are actually healthier.

    "Ultimately, the data we have available don't tell us that life will be better down the line," Blumberg said.

    Waite suggested that unmarried men try to "figure out a way to replace the kinds of support that they might get from a spouse if they were married."

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