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WHAT HELPS MIDDLE-AGED WIDOWS WITH THEIR PSYCHOLOGICAL AND SOCIAL ADAPTATION SEVERAL YEARS AFTER THEIR LOSS?

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This study examines the factors contributing to middle-aged widows' adaptation to their husbands' death due to physical illness, 1 to 5 years after the initial loss. Ninety-three widows and 93 married women, who served as controls, filled out questionnaires assessing their experience of stress and strain, their Sense of Coherence level, the social support they received, as well as measures of psychological and social adaptation. Results show that several years after their husbands' death, many widows still perceive life events and hassles as significantly more intense experiences than do their married counterparts. Moreover, they report a significantly lower Sense of Coherence, diminished social support and a lower level of mental health, as compared with married women. Multiple regression revealed that Sense of Coherence was the most significant contributor to adaptation variables, especially to mental health. Social support contributed significantly to the 2 social adaptation subscales. The discussion emphasizes the importance of Sense of Coherence to adaptation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Technion Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel 2: Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel

Publication date: September 1, 2004

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