Marital loss, mental health and the role of perceived social support: Findings from six waves of an Australian population based panel study

Hewitt, Belinda, Turrell, Gavin and Giskes, Katrina (2012) Marital loss, mental health and the role of perceived social support: Findings from six waves of an Australian population based panel study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 66 4: 308-314. doi:10.1136/jech.2009.104893


Author Hewitt, Belinda
Turrell, Gavin
Giskes, Katrina
Title Marital loss, mental health and the role of perceived social support: Findings from six waves of an Australian population based panel study
Journal name Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0143-005X
1470-2738
Publication date 2012-04
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1136/jech.2009.104893
Volume 66
Issue 4
Start page 308
End page 314
Total pages 7
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BMJ Group
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objectives To investigate the impact of transitions out of marriage (separation, widowhood) on the self reported mental health of men and women, and examine whether perceptions of social support play an intervening role.
Methods The analysis used six waves (2001–06) of an Australian population based panel study, with an analytical sample of 3017 men and 3225 women. Mental health was measured using the MHI-5 scale scored 0–100 (α=0.97), with a higher score indicating better mental health. Perceptions of social support were measured using a 10-item scale ranging from 10 to 70 (α=0.79), with a higher score indicating higher perceived social support. A linear mixed model for longitudinal data was used, with lags for marital status, mental health and social support.
Results After adjustment for social characteristics there was a decline in mental health for men who separated (−5.79 points) or widowed (−7.63 points), compared to men who remained married. Similar declines in mental health were found for women who separated (−6.65 points) or became widowed (−9.28 points). The inclusion of perceived social support in the models suggested a small mediation effect of social support for mental health with marital loss. Interactions between perceived social support and marital transitions showed a strong moderating effect for men who became widowed. No significant interactions were found for women.
Conclusion Marital loss significantly decreased mental health. Increasing, or maintaining, high levels of social support has the potential to improve widowed men's mental health immediately after the death of their spouse.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Published Online First 21 October 2010

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Institute for Social Science Research - Publications
Official 2013 Collection
 
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