Bereavement From COVID-19, Gender, and Reports of Depression Among Older Adults in Europe

Haowei Wang, Ashton M. Verdery, Rachel Margolis, Emily Smith-Greenaway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Objectives: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has left older adults around the world bereaved by the sudden death of relatives and friends. We examine if COVID-19 bereavement corresponds with older adults' reporting depression in 27 countries and test for variations by gender and country context. Method: We analyze the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe COVID-19 data collected between June and August 2020 from 51,383 older adults (age 50-104) living in 27 countries, of whom 1,363 reported the death of a relative or friend from COVID-19. We estimate pooled multilevel logit regression models to examine if COVID-19 bereavement is associated with self-reported depression and worsening depression, and we test whether national COVID-19 mortality rates moderate these associations. Results: COVID-19 bereavement is associated with significantly higher probabilities of both reporting depression and reporting worsened depression among older adults. Net of one's own personal loss, living in a country with the highest COVID-19 mortality rate is associated with women's reports of worsened depression but not men's. However, the country's COVID-19 mortality rate does not moderate associations between COVID-19 bereavement and depression. Discussion: COVID-19 deaths have lingering mental health implications for surviving older adults. Even as the collective toll of the crisis is apparent, bereaved older adults are in particular need of mental health support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E142-E149
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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