The aim of this study was to assess if widowers had an increased mortality rate during the first 6 to 9 years after the death of their wife, compared initially to an age-matched control group and also compared to the general population of Iceland.
The study base was comprised of all 371 men born in 1924-1969 who were widowed in Iceland in 1999-2001 and 357 controls, married men, who were matched by age and residence.
The widowers and controls were followed through the years 2002-2007 using information from Statistics Iceland. Mortality rates were compared between the groups and also with the general population. The mortality rate comparisons were: study group vs. control group, on the one hand, and study group vs. general population on the other. Causes of death were also compared between widowers and their wives.
A statistically significant increase in mortality in the widowers' group, compared to controls, was observed.
Lifestyle-related factors could not be excluded as contributing to cause of death in these cases.
Being a widower was related to an increased risk of death for at least 9 years after the death of their wife.