Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 9 Issue 1 (January/February 1999), Pages 1-71

Does differential social support cause sex differences in bereavement outcome? (pages 1-12)

Abstract

A study of a sample of bereaved and married individuals tested the prediction from stress theory that sex differences in bereavement outcome are due to differences in social support extended to the bereaved. Previous research had established that compared to same‐sex married controls, widowers suffer greater health deterioration following the death of a spouse than widows. Although there is some evidence that widows receive more social support than widowers, it has never been tested empirically whether differential social support is responsible for the sex difference in bereavement outcome. Two sets of tests were conducted to examine these hypotheses: first, sex differences in bereavement outcome and in the social support perceived by the bereaved were assessed by means of sex×marital status ANOVAs on depressive symptomatology, loneliness and social support; second, an ANCOVA was used to assess whether the marital status×sex interaction on distress was substantially reduced or eliminated when social support was used as a covariate. Although there was evidence of the expected sex differences in bereavement outcome and social support, there was no evidence that social support mediates the sex differences in bereavement outcome. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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