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The impact of a child death on marital adjustment


Author Info

  • Najman, Jake M.
  • Vance, John C.
  • Boyle, Fran
  • Embleton, Gary
  • Foster, Bill
  • Thearle, John
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    One continuing concern in the sociological and psychological literature has been with the mental health consequences of stressful life events. Occasionally such stressful events have been linked to other outcomes such as deterioration in the extent or quality of the relationship between a cohabiting (usually married) couple. This paper takes data from a longitudinal study of parents of an infant who has died (due to a Stillbirth, Neonatal Death or Sudden Infant Death), to determine whether the relationship between the parents is adversely affected. The follow-up data is available 2 months and 6-8 months after the infant death. The results indicate there is an increased marital break-up rate for parents whose infant has died. Further, shortly after the death there is evidence of a deterioration of the quality of the marital relationship between the partners whose relationship has remained intact. Both these consequences of an infant death are unlikely to be due to chance, but their magnitude is relatively modest. At the 6 month follow-up, there is evidence of a deterioration in the quality of the relationship for those partners whose infant survived, such that at 6 months there are no longer any marital adjustment differences between parents experiencing an infant death and parents whose infant survived.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 37 (1993)
    Issue (Month): 8 (October)
    Pages: 1005-1010

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:37:y:1993:i:8:p:1005-1010

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    Keywords: stillbirth neonatal death sudden infant death marital adjustment stress;


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    Cited by:
    1. van den Berg, Gerard J. & Lundborg, Petter & Vikström, Johan, 2012. "The economics of grief," Working Paper Series 2012:23, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    2. Lee, Chioun & Glei, Dana A. & Weinstein, Maxine & Goldman, Noreen, 2014. "Death of a child and parental wellbeing in old age: Evidence from Taiwan," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 101(C), pages 166-173.


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