China has an enormous and rapidly growing population of widowed elders. Little is known about how losing a spouse affects elders’ health-related quality of life (QOL), especially in the rural areas where most Chinese elders live. This article analyzes QOL data collected in 2014 among rural Chinese elders to address this question.
SF12 questionnaires and information about individual and household characteristics were collected from 3053 elders aged 60 and above in rural China. We compared the physical component summary (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) scores between 1925 married elders and 1060 widowed elders in a bivariate model stratifying by gender and age group and in a general factorial ANOVA multivariate analysis that examined and controlled for other predictors of PCS and MCS scores including education, chronic disease, and family and household factors.
Widowed male and female elders’ physical health and mental health were in decline with age. Widowed men had lower PCS and MCS scores than married men. Widowed women also had lower PCS scores, but differences in MCS scores did not reach statistical significance. In multivariate analysis, widowhood was associated with lower PCS and MCS scores overall. Support from children was associated with better QOL and, based on interaction analysis, appeared to mitigate negative effects of widowhood.
Widowed rural elders in China have lower physical and mental quality of life than their married counterparts. These elders rely on their children for care, and a supportive family is associated with better QOL.
Wang, G., & Ge, H. (2013). Status of widowed elderly population in China and its development trend. Science Research Aging,1, 44–55.
Zhang, Y. (2013). Family lives, health and care arrangements of Chinese aging population. Jiangsu Social Science,1, 57–65.
Hughes, E., & Waite, L. (2002). Health in household context: Living arrangements and health in late middle life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior,3, 1–21. CrossRef
Chappell, N. L. (1991). Living arrangements and sources of care-giving. Journal of Gerontology Social Science,1, 1–8. CrossRef
WHOQOL Group. (1993). Study protocol for the World Health Organization project to develop a quality of life assessment instrument (WHOQOL). Quality of Life Research,1993(2), 153–159. CrossRef
Bowling, A., Banister, D., Sutton, S., Evans, O., & Windsor, J. (2002). A multi-dimensional model of the quality of life in older age. Aging and Mental Health,4, 355–371. CrossRef
Hao, Z., Chen, C., & Guo, J. (2014). Quality of Life among community elders. Chinese Journal of Gerontology,7, 3983–3984.
Luo, M., Wan, Y., & Zhang, J. (2011). Health related quality of life of rural and urban elders in Sichuan province, China. Mod Prev Med,14(2695–7), 2710.
Feng, L., Wang, Y., & Sun, Q. (2014). Multi-factor analysis of quality of life among urban elders in Jilin city, China. Chinese Journal of Gerontology,9, 4975–4976.
Tian, L., & Zhang, K. (2010). Quality of life and its related factors research among middle-aged and elderly people. Chinese Journal of General Medicine,13(6A), 1782–1784.
Guo, Z., Liu, X., Xu, L., Feng, L., & Ma, Y. (2015). Quality of life and its relationship with care from children in city. Chinese Journal of Gerontology,9, 2526–2527.
Cheng, X. (2016). Life quality of elderly and living arrangements: empirical study based on CLHLS data. Social Insurance Research,1, 31–37.
Li, J., & Li, J. (2012). Quality of life research among urban empty-nest elders. J Popul,3, 31–41.
Li, J., Feng, Y., & Yang, P. (2014). Quality of life research among rural empty-nest elders. Science Research Aging,5, 3–13.
Wei, P. (2010). Subjective life evaluation analysis among elders from different family structures: Based on the survey data of Guiyang city, China. South Population,5, 32–37.
Jiao, K. (2010). The Influence of widowhood on mortality among Chinese elderly. J Popul,6, 9–13.
Huang, Q. (2014). Research on the marriage and death risks of the Chinese elderly. Science Research Aging,11, 36–43.
Gu, D. (2003). Gender difference analysis of marriage impact on health among advanced aged elders. Chinese Population Science, 87, 32–40.
Liu, H., Sun, F., & Hu, P. (1998). National and regional different marital statfus population death characteristic research. Chinese Population Science, 69, 8–15.
Li, J. (1994). The marital status and mortality differences of China’s population. Chinese Population Science, 44, 16–21.
Bennett, K. M. (1997). Widowhood in elderly women: the medium- and long-term effects on mental and physical health. Mortality,2, 137–148. CrossRef
Thuen, Frode, & Reime, Marit H. (1997). The effect of widowhood on psychological wellbeing and social support in the oldest groups of the elderly. Journal of Mental Health,3, 265–274.
Byrne, G. J., & Raphael, B. (1997). The psychological symptoms of conjugal bereavement in elderly men over the first 13 months. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry,2, 241–251. CrossRef
Pienta, A. M., Hayward, M. D., & Jenkins, K. R. (2000). Health consequences of marriage for the retirement years. Journal of Family Issues,21, 559–586. CrossRef
Lev, E. L., & McCorkle, R. (1998). Loss, grief and bereavement in family members of cancer patients. Seminars in Oncology Nursing,2, 145–151. CrossRef
Kleinmann, A. (2012). Editorial: culture, bereavement and psychiatry. Lancet,379, 608–609. CrossRef
Wen, X., Guan, C., & Liang, J. (2015). Quality of life comparison between empty-nest elders and none-empty-nest elders. Science Research Aging,2, 1662–1664.
Campos, A. C., Ferreirae, E., Vargas, A. M., & Albala, C. (2014). Aging, gender and quality of life (AGEQOL) study: Factors associated with quality of life in older Brazilian community dwelling adults. Health Quality of Life Outcomes,12, 166. doi: 10.1186/s12955-014-0166-4. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentral
Sarath, R., & Sidiah, S. (2015). Quality of life and its determinants among older People living in the rural community in Sri Lanka. Indian Journal of Gerontology,2, 131–153.
Ware, J. E., Kosinski, M., & Keller, S. D. (1995). SF-12: How to Score the SF-12 Physical and Mental Health Summary Scales (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: The Health Institute.
Xiao, H., & Kuang, H. (2014). SF - 12 reliability and validity analysis among Chinese elders. Chinese Journal of Gerontology,2, 1018–1020.
- Health-related quality of life of among elders in rural China: the effect of widowhood
- Springer International Publishing