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Mortality and medical care after bereavement: a general practice cohort study

King, M; Vasanthan, M; Petersen, I; Jones, L; Marston, L; Nazareth, I; (2013) Mortality and medical care after bereavement: a general practice cohort study. PLoS One , 8 (1) , Article e52561. 10.1371/journal.pone.0052561. Green open access

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Abstract

Bereaved spouses or partners are thought to be at increased risk of morbidity and mortality. However, there are few large prospective studies and results are inconsistent. We estimated the relative mortality, prescription of psychotropic medication and use of primary medical care services in adults whose cohabitee died of cancer. To do this, we undertook a cohort study using The Health Improvement Network (THIN) UK primary care database. Participants were 1) people aged over 40, who were registered with general practices and had been exposed to the death of a cohabitee from cancer; and 2) a comparison cohort frequency matched on five year age bands and sex who were cohabiting with a living partner. The baseline was chosen as six months before the date of the cancer death for the exposed group and a random date for the unexposed group. Incidence rate ratios (IRR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using random effects Poisson regression to account for clustering within general practices and adjusting for other key variables. 92,129 patients were studied for a median follow up of 4 years. Cohabitees of patients who died of cancer were less likely to die of any cause (IRR 0.71, CI 0.68–0.74) after adjustment for age, gender, number of non-psychotropic prescriptions 6 months before the cancer death/index date, use of psychotropic medication 6 months before the cancer death/index date, smoking, alcohol and area deprivation score. Exposed patients were more likely to receive a prescription for antidepressant or hypnotic medication and to attend their GP both before and after the death of the cohabitee. In conclusion, we did not confirm increased mortality in cohabitees of people dying from cancer.

Type: Article
Title: Mortality and medical care after bereavement: a general practice cohort study
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052561
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0052561
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 King et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Division of Psychiatry
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Primary Care and Population Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1372667
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