Patterns of Psychological Adaptation to Spousal Bereavement in Old Age

Spahni, Stefanie, Morselli, Davide, Perrig-Chiello, Pasqualina and Bennett, Kate ORCID: 0000-0003-3164-6894
(2015) Patterns of Psychological Adaptation to Spousal Bereavement in Old Age. Gerontology, 61 (5). 456 - 468.

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Background: While the negative effects of spousal bereave- ment on well-being are well documented in empirical re- search, the large individual differences in psychological ad- aptation are still not well understood. Objective: This contri- bution aims to identify patterns of psychological adaptation to spousal loss in old age and to shed light on the role of intra- and interpersonal resources and contextual factors as discriminant variables among these patterns. Methods: The data stem from a cross-sectional questionnaire study of 402 widowed individuals (228 women, 174 men) aged between 60 and 89 years (mean age 74.41 years), who lost their part- ner within the last 5 years, and 618 married individuals, who served as controls (312 women, 306 men; mean age 73.82 years). Results: The exploratory latent profile analysis of the well-being outcomes of depressive symptoms, hopeless- ness, loneliness, life satisfaction and subjective health re- vealed three different groups in the widowed sample: ‘resil- ients’ (54% of the sample), ‘copers’ (39%) and ‘vulnerables’ (7%). The most important variables for group allocation were intrapersonal resources – psychological resilience and the Big Five personality traits – but also the quality of the former relationship and how the loss was experienced. Conclusion: Successful adaptation to spousal loss is primarily associated with high scores in psychological resilience and extraversion and low scores in neuroticism. Our results shed light on the variability in psychological adaptation and underline the im- portant role of intrapersonal resources in facing spousal loss in old age.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bereavement, Psychological adjustment, Variability, Well-being, Resources
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 01 Sep 2015 09:24
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2021 01:11
DOI: 10.1159/000371444
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