Alcohol-related mortality and all-cause mortality following bereavement in two successive generations

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Background and aim Bereavement affects the health of the bereaved both emotionally and physically. Bereavement resulting from alcohol-related death of the previous generation (parents-first generation) may increase the risk of alcohol abuse and consequently alcohol-related mortality as well as all-cause mortality in the next generation (offspring-second generation). Furthermore, these associations can be bi-directional. However, there is no conclusive evidence of these effects, and studies exploring these intergenerational effects are rare. This study investigates these associations. Methods A longitudinal data were constructed by linking participants from the Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Surveys (AHLS) from 1979 to 1997 with census and registry-based data from Statistics Finland containing the socioeconomic status of the survey participants and their parents (N = 78610) to investigate these associations. Multivariate Cox proportional hazards models were used to calculate hazard ratios with 95% confidence intervals to determine the effect of bereavement with alcohol-related mortality and all-cause mortality. Results The findings suggest that bereavement following the death of an offspring increases the risk of both alcohol-related and all-cause mortality among both parents. The magnitude of the risk of mortality following the death of an offspring is higher for mothers than for fathers. There were no clear associations of a parent’s death with an offspring’s alcohol-related or all-cause mortality. However, generally, a father’s death seems to be protective of the risk of mortality among the offspring while a mother’s alcohol-related death slightly increased the risk of alcohol-related mortality among their offspring. Conclusions These findings emphasise the role of bereavement, particularly resulting from the death of an offspring, on alcohol-related and all-cause mortality and therefore inequalities in mortality. Furthermore, the findings highlighting the need for alcohol abuse intervention and emotional support for bereaved persons following the death of an offspring.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0243290
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General


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