Frailty and spousal/partner bereavement in older people: a scoping review

Mahon, Aoife; Garcia, Rebecca; Boyle, Geraldine; Jones, Kerry and Vseteckova, Jitka (2020). Frailty and spousal/partner bereavement in older people: a scoping review. Ageing and Society (In Press).


Purpose: As life expectancy worldwide is increasing, the prevalence of frailty is also increasing. This scoping review aimed to identify and collate published information relating to frailty and spousal/partner bereavement in older people.

Design: A scoping review framework was used to identify literature from eleven databases, inclusive of grey literature, reference lists and citations of relevant studies. Only primary research studies that discussed frailty and spousal/partner bereavement i.e. the death of a life partner whether married or unmarried co-habiting, in community dwelling individuals aged 60+ years old, were included. Literature was international in scope. No date restrictions were applied. Quantitative findings were synthesised using descriptive statistics. Reviewer agreement was assessed with Cohen’s kappa.

Findings: Four studies were included. Overall, spousal/partner bereavement was negatively associated with the incidence and level of frailty. All four studies reported that elderly widowed females had a higher prevalence of frailty compared to married females and widowed and/or married males. Of note, all included studies had more female participants compared to males. Males were also less likely to be widowed or living alone compared to females. Female longevity and the potential of living alone once bereaved increases the risk of frailty for this population.

Value: This review identifies the needs of ageing populations and the potential risk of frailty associated with spousal/partner bereavement. While more research is needed, the information presented in this review will assist healthcare and funding bodies in identifying older populations at risk of frailty.

Viewing alternatives

Item Actions