Psychological and Physical Health in Widowhood: Does Marital Quality Make a Difference?

TitlePsychological and Physical Health in Widowhood: Does Marital Quality Make a Difference?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsLee, HJung, Han, SHwang, Boerner, K
JournalResearch on Aging
ISSN Number1552-7573
KeywordsChronic conditions, Depressive symptoms, Marital quality, Widowhood

We investigate how preloss marital quality is associated with changes in psychological distress and physical health among older widow(er)s. Using prospective data with a 2-year follow-up from the Health and Retirement Study, we selected 546 respondents who transitioned into widowhood. Respondents were classified as supportive, ambivalent, aversive, or neutral groups. The supportive and ambivalent group experienced greater increase in depressive symptoms compared to the aversive group, in widowhood. The aversive group showed greater increase in chronic conditions compared to the supportive group. Findings indicated that spousal loss may result in more psychological distress for those with supportive and ambivalent marital relationship. Yet, those with mostly negative accounts of their marriage may experience worsened physical health, albeit no increase in psychological distress. Understanding different benefits and challenges facing older individuals after a positive or negative marriage may help direct support and interventions efforts toward older couples during marriage and in widowhood.

Citation Key11452
PubMed ID33511917