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Increased risk for hip fracture after death of a spouse-further support for bereavement frailty?

Journal article
Authors Cecilie Hongslo Vala
Mattias Lorentzon
Valter Sundh
H. Johansson
C Lewerin
S Sten
M Karlsson
Claes Ohlsson
Boo Johansson
J A Kanis
Dan Mellström
Published in Osteoporosis international : a journal established as result of cooperation between the European Foundation for Osteoporosis and the National Osteoporosis Foundation of the USA
Volume 31
Pages 485–492
ISSN 1433-2965
Publication year 2020
Published at Centre for Bone and Arthritis Research
Department of Psychology
Institute of Medicine
Institute of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine and Clinical Nutrition
Pages 485–492
Language en
Subject categories Endocrinology


Death of a spouse is associated with poorer physical and mental health. We followed all married individuals, born from 1902 to 1942, during the period from 1987 to 2002, and found that widows and widowers had higher risk for hip fracture, compared with still married women and men.Spousal bereavement can lead to poorer physical and mental health. We aimed to determine whether married women and men had an elevated risk of hip fracture after death of a spouse.In a retrospective cohort study, we followed all Swedish married individuals aged 60 to 100 years (n = 1,783,035), from 1987 to 2002. Data are presented as mean with 95% confidence interval (CI).During the follow-up period, 21,305 hip fractures among widows and 6538 hip fractures among widowers were noted. The hazard ratio (HR) for hip fracture in widows compared with married women was 1.34 (95% CI 1.31 to 1.37) and for widowers compared with married men 1.32 (95% CI 1.29 to 1.35). The HR for hip fracture in the first 6 months after death of a spouse was in widows compared with married women 1.62 (95% CI 1.53 to 1.71) and in widowers compared with married men 1.84 (95% CI 1.68 to 2.03). The elevated risk was especially prominent in young widowers in the age range 60-69 years. During the first 6 months they showed a HR of 2.76 (95% CI 1.66 to 4.58) for a hip fractvure compared with age matched married men. Widows aged 60-69 years showed a HR of 1.59 (95% CI 1.26 to 1.99) compared with age matched married women.Our observation of a higher hip fracture risk in both genders in connection with the death of a spouse indicates a possible effect of bereavement on frailty.

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