ERIC Number: ED241865
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Aging Widows and Widowers: Does the Impact of Bereavement Differ?
Feinson, Marjorie Chary
Though many theories of the greater impact of a spouse's death on men than on women derive some support from role theory, little empirical data exist to support the hypotheses. Behavioral studies of widowhood have focused on social participation as a determinant in coping, without studying the survivor's degree of social involvement before the spouse's death. Physical response studies have focused on widow mortality rates, suggesting that men are at higher risk than women. However, these studies do not differentiate age categories when reporting results. Psychological response studies have found that, while women generally report more distress or depressive symptoms, bereaved women do not conform to this pattern. Further, existing studies do not provide any evidence to support the perception that men are more affected than women in the wake of a spouse's death. To investigate the psychological stress of death on widows and widowers, a probability sample of 163 respondents (over age 60), whose spouses had died within the last 24 months, were interviewed using the Hopkins Symptoms Checklist or the SCL-90-R and a modified version of the General Well Being Scale. An analysis of the results showed that although widows reported more symptoms, no significant gender differences were found for anxiety, somatic symptoms, or malaise. Overall, support for the perception of aging widowers as being more affected by their spouse's death is unfounded. (BL)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society (36th, San Francisco, CA, November 17-22, 1983).