Risk of Psychological Distress Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults Experiencing Spousal Loss in Ghana

Razak M GYASI, David R PHILLIPS

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

Abstract

Background:Spousal loss, common in older age, has been linked to negative mental health outcomes and well-being, yet the mechanisms linking spousal loss and mental health are still unclear.

Objective:To investigate whether physical activity, social support, and gender modify the psychological distress effects of marital loss among community-dwelling older persons in Ghana.

Methods:Data from a 2016/2017 Ageing, Health, Psychological Well-being, and Health-seeking Behavior Study (N = 1,200) were examined. OLS regression models examined associations between spousal loss and psychological distress outcomes and interaction terms.

Results:Spousal loss (widowhood and divorce/separation) was associated with psychological distress (measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale [KPDS-10]) for the full sample (β = .798, p < .001), women (β = .831, p < .001) and for men (β = .533, p < .05). After adjusting for potential confounders, the associations between spousal loss and psychological distress persisted for the full sample (β = .727, p < .001) and females only (β = .730, p < .001). In particular, when experiencing spousal loss, those with meaningful social support (β = −.856, p < .005) and engaged in physical activity (β = −.258, p < .001) were less likely to be psychologically distressed.

Conclusions:Spousal loss precipitates an independent risk of psychological distress in older age particularly among women, but social support and physical activity engagements moderate the relationship. These findings support the premise that providing opportunities to improve social support and regular physical activity may buffer the effects of psychological distress among older persons experiencing spousal loss. Providing support for older adults in times of divorce and widowhood, and working towards changes in social attitudes towards divorce are important considerations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbergnz052
Number of pages12
JournalThe Gerontologist
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 May 2019

Fingerprint

Independent Living
Ghana
Psychology
Social Support
Divorce
Exercise
Widowhood
Mental Health
Health
Buffers

Bibliographical note

Lingnan University, one of the Hong Kong’s 8 publicly-funded universities (grant/award number: RPG-1129310).

Keywords

  • Gender
  • Physical activity
  • Social support
  • Aging
  • Widowhood
  • mental health

Cite this

@article{54c5d84596c148cdbca500f2b872cf60,
title = "Risk of Psychological Distress Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults Experiencing Spousal Loss in Ghana",
abstract = "Background:Spousal loss, common in older age, has been linked to negative mental health outcomes and well-being, yet the mechanisms linking spousal loss and mental health are still unclear.Objective:To investigate whether physical activity, social support, and gender modify the psychological distress effects of marital loss among community-dwelling older persons in Ghana.Methods:Data from a 2016/2017 Ageing, Health, Psychological Well-being, and Health-seeking Behavior Study (N = 1,200) were examined. OLS regression models examined associations between spousal loss and psychological distress outcomes and interaction terms.Results:Spousal loss (widowhood and divorce/separation) was associated with psychological distress (measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale [KPDS-10]) for the full sample (β = .798, p < .001), women (β = .831, p < .001) and for men (β = .533, p < .05). After adjusting for potential confounders, the associations between spousal loss and psychological distress persisted for the full sample (β = .727, p < .001) and females only (β = .730, p < .001). In particular, when experiencing spousal loss, those with meaningful social support (β = −.856, p < .005) and engaged in physical activity (β = −.258, p < .001) were less likely to be psychologically distressed.Conclusions:Spousal loss precipitates an independent risk of psychological distress in older age particularly among women, but social support and physical activity engagements moderate the relationship. These findings support the premise that providing opportunities to improve social support and regular physical activity may buffer the effects of psychological distress among older persons experiencing spousal loss. Providing support for older adults in times of divorce and widowhood, and working towards changes in social attitudes towards divorce are important considerations.",
keywords = "Gender, Physical activity, Social support, Aging, Widowhood, mental health",
author = "GYASI, {Razak M} and PHILLIPS, {David R}",
note = "Lingnan University, one of the Hong Kong’s 8 publicly-funded universities (grant/award number: RPG-1129310).",
year = "2019",
month = "5",
day = "16",
doi = "10.1093/geront/gnz052",
language = "English",
journal = "The Gerontologist",
issn = "0016-9013",
publisher = "Oxford University Press",

}

Risk of Psychological Distress Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults Experiencing Spousal Loss in Ghana. / GYASI, Razak M; PHILLIPS, David R.

In: The Gerontologist, 16.05.2019.

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)Researchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Risk of Psychological Distress Among Community-Dwelling Older Adults Experiencing Spousal Loss in Ghana

AU - GYASI, Razak M

AU - PHILLIPS, David R

N1 - Lingnan University, one of the Hong Kong’s 8 publicly-funded universities (grant/award number: RPG-1129310).

PY - 2019/5/16

Y1 - 2019/5/16

N2 - Background:Spousal loss, common in older age, has been linked to negative mental health outcomes and well-being, yet the mechanisms linking spousal loss and mental health are still unclear.Objective:To investigate whether physical activity, social support, and gender modify the psychological distress effects of marital loss among community-dwelling older persons in Ghana.Methods:Data from a 2016/2017 Ageing, Health, Psychological Well-being, and Health-seeking Behavior Study (N = 1,200) were examined. OLS regression models examined associations between spousal loss and psychological distress outcomes and interaction terms.Results:Spousal loss (widowhood and divorce/separation) was associated with psychological distress (measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale [KPDS-10]) for the full sample (β = .798, p < .001), women (β = .831, p < .001) and for men (β = .533, p < .05). After adjusting for potential confounders, the associations between spousal loss and psychological distress persisted for the full sample (β = .727, p < .001) and females only (β = .730, p < .001). In particular, when experiencing spousal loss, those with meaningful social support (β = −.856, p < .005) and engaged in physical activity (β = −.258, p < .001) were less likely to be psychologically distressed.Conclusions:Spousal loss precipitates an independent risk of psychological distress in older age particularly among women, but social support and physical activity engagements moderate the relationship. These findings support the premise that providing opportunities to improve social support and regular physical activity may buffer the effects of psychological distress among older persons experiencing spousal loss. Providing support for older adults in times of divorce and widowhood, and working towards changes in social attitudes towards divorce are important considerations.

AB - Background:Spousal loss, common in older age, has been linked to negative mental health outcomes and well-being, yet the mechanisms linking spousal loss and mental health are still unclear.Objective:To investigate whether physical activity, social support, and gender modify the psychological distress effects of marital loss among community-dwelling older persons in Ghana.Methods:Data from a 2016/2017 Ageing, Health, Psychological Well-being, and Health-seeking Behavior Study (N = 1,200) were examined. OLS regression models examined associations between spousal loss and psychological distress outcomes and interaction terms.Results:Spousal loss (widowhood and divorce/separation) was associated with psychological distress (measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale [KPDS-10]) for the full sample (β = .798, p < .001), women (β = .831, p < .001) and for men (β = .533, p < .05). After adjusting for potential confounders, the associations between spousal loss and psychological distress persisted for the full sample (β = .727, p < .001) and females only (β = .730, p < .001). In particular, when experiencing spousal loss, those with meaningful social support (β = −.856, p < .005) and engaged in physical activity (β = −.258, p < .001) were less likely to be psychologically distressed.Conclusions:Spousal loss precipitates an independent risk of psychological distress in older age particularly among women, but social support and physical activity engagements moderate the relationship. These findings support the premise that providing opportunities to improve social support and regular physical activity may buffer the effects of psychological distress among older persons experiencing spousal loss. Providing support for older adults in times of divorce and widowhood, and working towards changes in social attitudes towards divorce are important considerations.

KW - Gender

KW - Physical activity

KW - Social support

KW - Aging

KW - Widowhood

KW - mental health

U2 - 10.1093/geront/gnz052

DO - 10.1093/geront/gnz052

M3 - Journal Article (refereed)

JO - The Gerontologist

JF - The Gerontologist

SN - 0016-9013

M1 - gnz052

ER -