Causes of death in a widowed population

Knud J. Helsing, George W. Comstock, Moyses Szklo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Causes of death of widowed and married were compared in a nonconcur-rent prospective study in Washington County, Maryland, which identified 4032 white persons aged 18 years and over who were enumerated in a 1963 nonof-ficial census and who became widowed between 1963 and 1974, and an equal number of married persons, each matched to a widowed person as to race, sex, year of birth, and geography of residence. Underlying causes of death were obtained from the death certificates of those who had died. Deaths from infectious diseases, accidents, and suicide were significantly higher than expected among widowed males, and deaths from cirrhosis of the liver were significantly higher than expected among widowed females. The similarity in causes of death of the widowed and their predeceased spouses was no greater than expected to occur by chance. There was no indication that widowed males or females suffering from chronic diseases, as defined by duration of underlying causes of death being two years or more, suffered earlier mortality after bereavement than others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)524-532
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1982
Externally publishedYes


  • Bereavement
  • Grief
  • Longitudinal studies
  • Marriage
  • Mortality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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