Widowhood is for many people a central aspect of growing older.
More than a third of people aged 65 years and over are widowed
and 60 per cent of those aged 75 and over. Widowhood and bereavement
can profoundly affect quality of life. In some cases this leads
to premature mortality, in others to a reduction in quality of
life, and in yet others to improvements in quality of life. Whilst
the study of late life widowhood is of interest to academics and
to the widowed people themselves, it is also of interest to health
and welfare professionals and to policy makers.
The study aims to examine both bereavement and widowhood, paying
particular attention to issues of gender, social participation,
lifestyle and emotional functioning. Few studies to date have
been qualitative, and even fewer have combined quantitative with
qualitative approaches. This study addresses the need for this
Aims and Objectives
To aim of the study is to examine the lifestyles of women and
men widowed in late life, highlighting gender, social participation,
wellbeing and emotional response, with a view to promoting more
effective adjustment to bereavement and widowhood.
The objectives are:
To identify and investigate the variations
in lifestyle and gender amongst widowed people.
To examine emotional adjustment
To identify patterns of response
that lead to successful or unsuccessful adjustment to bereavement
To propose strategies both for prevention
of and intervention in unsuccessful adaptation to bereavement
The study aims to interview a broad sample of widowed people.
There will be 80 participants, 40 women and 40 men, aged 65 and
over. It is intended that the participants will have been widowed
for a variety of time-spans. A semi-structured interview is used.
Broadly the questions will concern various life stages before
and after bereavement, so the data will be both retrospective
and concurrent. In addition, emotional and cognitive aspects are
measured using questionnaires.
The last two of the objectives of this research are particularly
relevant to policy and practice. It is intended that the results
of these will have a longer term impact on the lives of widowed
people through interventions and health/welfare policy. A better
understanding of social, cognitive and emotional changes in bereavement
and widowhood will be gained.