Published Papers - Abstract 52

Feldman S, Byles JE & Beaumont R. Is anybody listening?: The experiences of widowhood for older Australian women. Journal of Women and Ageing, 2000; 12: 155-176

This paper discusses preliminary findings from participants in the baseline survey of the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health (Women's Health Australia: WHA) who reported their marital status as widowed. A total of 12624 women, aged 70-75 years, completed a self-administered 260-item questionnaire, and 4355 of these women were widowed. Many of these women provided additional qualitative comments about their health, social and financial circumstances after the death of their spouse. This paper presents a thematic analysis of the qualitative comments and builds on the findings of the quantitative analysis of baseline data. The aims of this part of the study are to examine the short- and long-term effects of widowhood on the health and wellbeing of older women and to explore the process of change that they experience after the death of a spouse. Preliminary findings suggest that, as a key life event, widowhood has an initial negative impact on the health and wellbeing of older women, but in the long term it may be accompanied by a positive shift into a new life phase.