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J Behav Med. 2014 Aug;37(4):736-55. doi: 10.1007/s10865-013-9524-7. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

Changes in routine health behaviors following late-life bereavement: a systematic review.

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Department of Psychiatry, University Center for Social and Urban Research, University of Pittsburgh, 3343 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA, 15260, USA,


This systematic review examines the relationship between late-life spousal bereavement and changes in routine health behaviors. We review six behavioral domains/modifiable risk factors that are important for maintaining health among elderly populations: physical activity, nutrition, sleep quality, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and body weight status. Thirty-four articles were identified, derived from 32 studies. We found strong evidence for a relationship between bereavement and nutritional risk and involuntary weight loss, and moderate evidence for impaired sleep quality and increased alcohol consumption. There was mixed evidence for a relationship between bereavement and physical activity. We identify several methodological shortcomings, and describe the clinical implications of this review for the development of preventive intervention strategies.

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