alexa Mortality after the hospitalization of a spouse.
Psychiatry

Psychiatry

Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy

Author(s): Christakis NA, Allison PD

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Abstract BACKGROUND: The illness of a spouse can affect the health of a caregiving partner. We examined the association between the hospitalization of a spouse and a partner's risk of death among elderly people. METHODS: We studied 518,240 couples who were enrolled in Medicare in 1993. We used Cox regression analysis and fixed-effects (case-time-control) methods to assess hospitalizations and deaths during nine years of follow-up. RESULTS: Overall, 383,480 husbands (74 percent) and 347,269 wives (67 percent) were hospitalized at least once, and 252,557 husbands (49 percent) and 156,004 wives (30 percent) died. Mortality after the hospitalization of a spouse varied according to the spouse's diagnosis. Among men, 6.4 percent died within a year after a spouse's hospitalization for colon cancer, 6.9 percent after a spouse's hospitalization for stroke, 7.5 percent after a spouse's hospitalization for psychiatric disease, and 8.6 percent after a spouse's hospitalization for dementia. Among women, 3.0 percent died within a year after a spouse's hospitalization for colon cancer, 3.7 percent after a spouse's hospitalization for stroke, 5.7 percent after a spouse's hospitalization for psychiatric disease, and 5.0 percent after a spouse's hospitalization for dementia. After adjustment for measured covariates, the risk of death for men was not significantly higher after a spouse's hospitalization for colon cancer (hazard ratio, 1.02; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.95 to 1.09) but was higher after hospitalization for stroke (hazard ratio, 1.06; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.03 to 1.09), congestive heart failure (hazard ratio, 1.12; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.07 to 1.16), hip fracture (hazard ratio, 1.15; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.11 to 1.18), psychiatric disease (hazard ratio, 1.19; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.12 to 1.26), or dementia (hazard ratio, 1.22; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.12 to 1.32). For women, the various risks of death after a spouse's hospitalization were similar. Overall, for men, the risk of death associated with a spouse's hospitalization was 22 percent of that associated with a spouse's death (95 percent confidence interval, 17 to 27 percent); for women, the risk was 16 percent of that associated with death (95 percent confidence interval, 8 to 24 percent). CONCLUSIONS: Among elderly people hospitalization of a spouse is associated with an increased risk of death, and the effect of the illness of a spouse varies among diagnoses. Such interpersonal health effects have clinical and policy implications for the care of patients and their families. Copyright 2006 Massachusetts Medical Society. This article was published in N Engl J Med and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy

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