Low preparedness before the loss of a wife to cancer and the widower's chronic pain 4–5 years later—a population-based study
Version of Record online: 10 JUL 2013
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Volume 22, Issue 12, pages 2763–2770, December 2013
How to Cite
Ásgeirsdóttir, H. G., Valdimarsdóttir, U., Fürst, C. J., Steineck, G. and Hauksdóttir, A. (2013), Low preparedness before the loss of a wife to cancer and the widower's chronic pain 4–5 years later—a population-based study. Psycho-Oncology, 22: 2763–2770. doi: 10.1002/pon.3345
- Issue online: 6 DEC 2013
- Version of Record online: 10 JUL 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 27 MAY 2013
- Manuscript Revised: 18 APR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 26 NOV 2012
- the Swedish Cancer Society
- the Swedish Research Council
- Stockholm City Council
- Stockholm Cancer Foundation
- Karolinska Institutet
- the Icelandic Student Innovation fund
- spousal loss;
The focus of this study was on the impact of spousal loss on the development of chronic pain thereafter. More specifically, the aim was to investigate the effect of experiencing low preparedness before a wife's death and the widower's chronic pain 4–5 years after loss.
In a population-based study in the years 2004-2005, anonymous questionnaires were sent out to 907 men in Sweden who had lost a wife to cancer in 2000 and 2001. The questionnaires contained questions on the man's preparedness for his wife's death and his physical and psychological health at follow-up.
Altogether, 691 out of 907 questionnaires were retrieved (76%). Younger widowers (38-61 years old) with a low degree of preparedness for their wife's death had an increased risk of experiencing symptoms of chronic pain (odds ratio 6.67; 2.49-17.82) 4-5 years after loss. The same results did not apply for older widowers (62-80 years old) (odds ratio 0.81; 0.32-2.05). Widowers who experienced chronic pain were at an increased risk for psychological morbidity, depression (relative risk [RR] 2.21; 1.31-3.74), anxiety (RR 2.11; 1.33-3.37), and sleep disorders (RR 2.19; 1.30-3.69).
Our data suggest that low preparedness for a wife's death may increase risk of chronic pain among younger widowers 4-5 years after loss. In addition, we found comorbidity between psychological symptoms and chronic pain among widowers. These findings call for studies on possible mechanisms in the association between low preparedness and morbidity and on how to increase preparedness for a wife's death to cancer. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.