Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Grief, Bereavement, and Coping With Loss (PDQ®): Supportive care - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Risk Factors for Complicated Grief and Other Negative Bereavement Outcomes

continued...

Personal: Gender

In general, men experience more negative consequences than women do after losing a spouse. Mortality rates of bereaved men and women are higher for both men and women compared to nonbereaved people; however, the relative increase in mortality is higher for men than for women. Men also tend to experience greater degrees of depression and greater degrees of overall negative health consequences than do women after a spouse's death.[2] Some researchers have suggested that the mechanism for this difference is the lower level of social support provided to bereaved men than that provided to bereaved women.

Personal: Age

In general, younger bereaved persons experience more difficulties after a loss than do older bereaved persons. These difficulties include more severe health consequences, grief symptoms, and psychological and physical symptoms.[2] The reason for this age-related difference may be the fact that younger bereaved persons are more likely to have experienced unexpected and sudden loss. However, it is also thought that younger bereaved persons may experience more difficulties during the initial period after the loss but may recover more quickly because they have more access to various types of resources (e.g., social support) than do older bereaved persons.[2]

Interpersonal Context: Social Support

Social support is a highly complex construct, consisting of a variety of components (perceived availability, social networks, supportive climate/environment, support seeking) and measured in a variety of ways. However, as mentioned above, lack of social support is a risk factor for negative bereavement outcomes: It is both a general risk factor for negative health outcomes and a bereavement-specific risk factor for negative outcomes after loss.[2] For example, after the death of a close family member (e.g., spouse), many persons report a number of related losses (often unanticipated) such as the loss of income, lifestyle, and daily routine—all important aspects of social support.

References:

  1. Tomarken A, Holland J, Schachter S, et al.: Factors of complicated grief pre-death in caregivers of cancer patients. Psychooncology 17 (2): 105-11, 2008.
  2. Stroebe W, Schut H: Risk factors in bereavement outcome: a methodological and empirical review. In: Stroebe MS, Hansson RO, Stroebe W, et al., eds.: Handbook of Bereavement Research: Consequences, Coping, and Care. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2001, 349-71.
  3. Bowlby J: Attachment and Loss. Volume III: Loss: Sadness and Depression. New York, NY: Basic Books, Inc., 1980.
  4. Parkes CM, Weiss RS: Recovery from Bereavement. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1983.
  5. van Doorn C, Kasl SV, Beery LC, et al.: The influence of marital quality and attachment styles on traumatic grief and depressive symptoms. J Nerv Ment Dis 186 (9): 566-73, 1998.
  6. Nolen-Hoeksema S, McBride A, Larson J: Rumination and psychological distress among bereaved partners. J Pers Soc Psychol 72 (4): 855-62, 1997.
  7. Shuchter SR, Zisook S: The course of normal grief. In: Stroebe MS, Stroebe W, Hansson RO, eds.: Handbook of Bereavement: Theory, Research, and Intervention. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 1993, pp 23-43.
1|2
1|2

WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Building a Support System
Blog
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
 
precancerous lesions slideshow
SLIDESHOW
quit smoking tips
SLIDESHOW
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article