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Death Stud. 2019 Sep 19:1-14. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2019.1661884. [Epub ahead of print]

"Death from a broken heart": A systematic review of the relationship between spousal bereavement and physical and physiological health outcomes.

Ennis J1,2, Majid U1,3,4.

Author information

1
Ennis Centre for Pain Management , Hamilton , Canada.
2
Department of Medicine, McMaster University , Hamilton , Canada.
3
Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation, University of Toronto , Toronto , Canada.
4
Division of Clinical Decision-Making and Healthcare, University Health Network , Toronto , Canada.

Abstract

The loss of a loved one is often associated with "death from a broken heart" for the survivor, and there is evidence that shows that widowers and widows are at risk for higher morbidity and mortality than the general population. This systematic review will summarize the physical and physiological health outcomes of spousal bereavement. A systematic database search was conducted, and 38 studies were analyzed. The majority of studies found a statistically significant and positive association between spousal bereavement and adverse physical and physiological health outcomes such as inflammation, cardiovascular risk, chronic pain, and mortality.

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