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Ann Epidemiol. 2007 Apr;17(4):313-9. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Risk of mortality related to widowhood in older Mexican Americans.

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Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, TX 76107-2699, USA.



To examine the risk and correlates of mortality after death of a spouse and whether mortality risk varies by sex.


Prospective cohort study (1993 to 2000) of 1693 Mexican Americans ages 65 years and older who were married at baseline. Mortality was confirmed by matching records with the National Death Index or through proxy report. Risk of death related to incidence of widowhood was estimated by using proportional hazard regression and adjusted for age, education, US nativity, financial strain, social support, health behaviors, medical conditions, disability, and depressive symptoms.


In the unadjusted Cox hazard analysis, widowed men are significantly more likely to die (HR=2.32, CI=1.48 to 3.61), but loss of spouse has no significant effect on the subsequent risk of death for widowed women (HR=1.50, CI=0.90 to 2.49). After adjustment for covariates known to influence survival, the association between widowhood and mortality in men remained significant, but the magnitude of the association decreased by 26%, which suggests a partial mediation effect of these factors on survival. The trajectory of the survival curve shows that the risk of death associated with widowhood is highest within the first 2 years.


Widowhood in older Mexican American men is a risk factor for mortality.

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