Published Papers - Abstract 29

Byles JE, Feldman S & Mishra G. For richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health: Older widowed women’s health, relationships and financial security. Women and Health, 1999; 29(1): 15-30

Aim: This study contrasts the health and social needs of widowed older women with needs of married older women.Method: 12,624 women aged 70-75 years across Australia completed baseline questionnaires for the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health: 34.5% of the women were widowed, and 13.5% of these widowed women had lost their spouse within the past 12 months (recently widowed).Results: Recently widowed women had particular physical and mental health needs as well as financial and practical needs relating to managing on their income. They had the lowest self-rated health, were most likely to report they were stressed about their health, and scored significantly lower than married women on all 8 sub-scales of the SF-36. Women were more likely to say they make their own decisions about their life if they were widowed than if they were married. However, stress with relationships with children or other family members was more likely to be reported by widows than other women.