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Losing a partner: the varying financial and practical impacts of bereavement in different sociodemographic groups

Abstract

Objectives The purpose of this study was to describe the financial and practical impacts of the death of a life partner, up to 5 years after bereavement. The study compared the impact felt by different sociodemographic groups and evaluated the role of financial and caring organisations in improving these impacts.

Methods An evidence review of the subject area was conducted and a qualitative assessment of the target population (individuals whose partner had died in the past 3 years) was carried out using a semistructured interview (n=6). Subsequently, a multiple choice survey was constructed to collect data from a wider target population (individuals whose partner had died in the past 5 years) and covered topics including finances, interaction with organisations and management of daily tasks (n=500).

Results The results of the multiple choice survey have been interpreted here using basic descriptive statistical analysis. 69% of people who lost a partner were unprepared, either financially or practically, for bereavement. Women and those under the age of 50 experienced the most significant financial impact and practical changes continued beyond 3 years postbereavement. To manage this disruption, 61% of participants reported that they felt they needed more help from financial and caring organisations postbereavement.

Conclusions The results of this survey demonstrate some of the key struggles each demographic group faces immediately after bereavement and into the future. It is clear that preparation and bereavement support have a profound effect on mitigating the negative impacts seen here.

  • Bereavement
  • Financial
  • Palliative
  • Gender
  • Grief
  • Received 2 August 2016.
  • Revision received 5 January 2017.
  • Accepted 1 April 2017.

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