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17-06-2015 | Brief Communication | Uitgave 12/2015 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 12/2015

Population-level impact of loss on survivor mortality risk

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 12/2015
Joseph Allegra, Amara Ezeamama, Cherie Simpson, Toni Miles



The loss of a loved one adversely affects the bereaved.

Materials and Methods

Using data from the 2010 and 2012 waves of Health and Retirement Study (HRS), we estimate the risk for death in a 2-year span after the loss of a parent, spouse, or child for adults aged 50 to 70 years.


A respondent with a loss was twice as likely to die when compared similarly aged persons with no loss (OR 2.32; 95 % CI 1.14, 5.30). Loss of either a parent (OR 1.93; 95 % CI 1.01, 4.07), or a child (OR 1.77; 95 % CI 1.08, 2.96) also increased respondent mortality. This elevated risk persists after adjustment for gender and other high-risk health conditions. Any physical activity reduces survivor death rates during this critical period by more than 85 %.

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