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Partner Bereavement and Detection of Dementia: A UK-Based Cohort Study Using Routine Health Data

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DOI

  • Harriet J. Forbes, London Sch Hyg & Trop Med, University of London, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dept Med Stat
  • ,
  • Angel Y. S. Wong, London Sch Hyg & Trop Med, University of London, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dept Med Stat
  • ,
  • Caroline Morton, London Sch Hyg & Trop Med, University of London, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dept Med Stat
  • ,
  • Krishnan Bhaskaran, London Sch Hyg & Trop Med, University of London, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dept Med Stat
  • ,
  • Liam Smeeth, London Sch Hyg & Trop Med, University of London, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dept Med Stat
  • ,
  • Marcus Richards, UCL, University College London, University of London, MRC Unit Lifelong Hlth & Ageing
  • ,
  • Sigrun A. J. Schmidt
  • Sinead M. Langan, London Sch Hyg & Trop Med, University of London, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dept Med Stat
  • ,
  • Charlotte Warren-Gash, London Sch Hyg & Trop Med, University of London, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Dept Med Stat

Background: In the UK, an estimated one third of people with dementia have not received a diagnosis. Good evidence suggests that dementia risk is increased among widowed individuals; however, it is not clear if they are being diagnosed in routine primary care.

Objective: This study aimed to investigate if bereavement influenced the probability of having received a dementia diagnosis.

Methods: A population-based cohort study using UK electronic health records, between 1997 and 2017, among 247,586 opposite-sex partners. Those experiencing partner bereavement were matched (age, sex, and date of bereavement) to a non-bereaved person living in a partnership. Multivariate cox regression was performed.

Results: Partner bereavement was associated with an increased risk of receiving a diagnosis of dementia in the first three months (hazard ratio (HR) 1.43, 95%CI 1.20-1.71) and first six months (HR 1.24, 95%CI 1.09-1.41), while there was a small reduced risk of getting a dementia diagnosis over all follow-up (HR 0.94, 95%CI 0.89-0.98).

Conclusions: Partner bereavement appears to lead to a short-term increased risk of the surviving partner receiving a diagnosis of dementia, suggesting that bereavement unmasks existing undiagnosed dementia. Over the longer term, however, bereaved individuals are less likely to have a diagnosis of dementia in their health records than non-bereaved individuals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Volume72
Issue2
Pages (from-to)653-662
Number of pages10
ISSN1387-2877
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

    Research areas

  • Bereavement, Clinical Practice Research Datalink, dementia, diagnosis, epidemiology, COGNITIVE FUNCTION, METAANALYSIS, PREVALENCE, VALIDATION, RISK

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