contact, life satisfaction, parental differential treatment, self-rated health, siblings


Objectives: Adults in mid to later life experience shrinking social networks, which may hinder well-being. Siblings may be important sources of social contact. Yet, little is known about adults’ patterns of contact with siblings and how contact is linked to well-being.

Method: Participants included 491 adults from across the United States (M age = 58.96, SD = 6.25; 68% female) recruited online via Amazon Mechanical Turk; they reported on their contact with their sibling in person, over the phone, via email, texting, and social media.

Results: Latent class analysis found evidence for four patterns of contact (classes) among siblings: low, medium, high, and traditional. Those with high contact reported greater life satisfaction than those in the other groups. Those in the high group reported lower self-rated health when they recalled being treated less favorably, relative to their sibling, by their mother as children.

Discussion: These findings suggest that differing patterns of sibling contact exist among older adults. In some cases, contact may promote well-being. In other cases, more contact may serve as a reminder of hurtful or painful past family experiences related to mothers’ differential treatment, in which case more contact may be linked to poorer health.

Original Publication Citation

Jensen, A. C., *Nielson, M. K., & Yorgason, J. B. (2019). The longest lasting relationship: Patterns of contact and well-being among mid to later life siblings. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


The Journals of Gerontology: Series B




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor