By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Study that found husbands prone to leave sick wives was flawed, researchers say
A coding error created a false conclusion in a study that found men may be more likely to bail on a marriage if the wife becomes sick, compared to if she's well. Researchers retracted the study. - photo by Lois M Collins
Researchers have retracted a study that seemed to show married couples are more likely to divorce if the wife gets sick, compared to if she stays healthy, citing discovery of a coding error.

The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found a 6 percent higher likelihood of divorce for couples with an ill wife.

Those findings are no longer considered true.

The American Sociological Association published a notice that "The authors have retracted the article titled 'In Sickness and in Health? Physical Illness as a Risk Factor for Marital Dissolution in Later Life' .... There was a major error in the coding in their dependent variable of marital status. The conclusions of that paper should be considered invalid."

It said the journal would publish a corrected version in September.

The Washington Post, which also covered the initial findings, said "when researchers at Bowling Green State tried to replicate the study results, they discovered the results were skewed by a mistake in the data, which counted people who left the study as divorces."

"They pointed out to us, to our horror, that we had miscoded the dependent variable," study author Amelia Karraker, professor at Iowa State University, told Retraction Watch. "As soon as we realized we made the mistake, we contacted the editor and told him what was happening, and said we made a mistake, we accept responsibility for it."

According to a Deseret News article in March, "Karraker initially conducted the research while at the University of Michigan and presented it at the Population Association of Americas annual meeting last May. She said her interest was sparked by criticism John Edwards and Newt Gingrich received when they divorced their sick wives."
Sign up for our e-newsletters