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Soc Sci Med. 2003 Jan;56(2):405-13.

Mortality after spousal loss: are there socio-demographic differences?

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School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical Organization, PO Box 12272, Jerusalem 91120, Israel.


This study evaluates the effect of spousal death on mortality among Israeli adults and examines differences in this effect by duration of bereavement, age, sex, education, ethnic origin, household size, and number of children. Data are taken from the Israel Longitudinal Mortality Study which is based on a linkage of records from a 20% sample of the 1983 census to records of deaths occurring during the period 1983-1992. The study population comprised 49,566 men and 41,264 women, of whom 4,402 (9%) and 11,114 (27%), respectively, were bereaved during the follow-up period. Excess mortality among the bereaved was evident among both men and women, especially after bereavement of short duration. During the first 6 months, the excess mortality was about 50% among women and about 40% among men. For men, the effect of bereavement on mortality decreased linearly with age, with a relative risk of 3 among younger men during early widowhood. Bereavement had a greater impact on the more educated men. The effect of bereavement did not vary by ethnic origin or household size.

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