Teleconference on largest-ever study examining caregiver burden and widower effect

On Thursday, Feb. 16, the New England Journal of Medicine will publish the results of the largest-ever study quantifying caregiver burden and widower effect, the risk of illness or death to a partner when a spouse is hospitalized or dies. The survey was led by Harvard Medical School Department of Health Care Policy professor Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD.

On Feb. 14, in an embargoed media teleconference, Christakis and co-author Paul Allison of the University of Pennsylvania will discuss key findings and take reporter questions. Suzanne Salamon, associate chief for clinical geriatrics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (a HMS–affiliated teaching hospital), will discuss interventions to assist spouses.

More than 500,000 couples aged 65 and older were surveyed in this study, which examined how an ill spouse and his or her diagnosis affects the wellbeing of their healthy partner.

The authors examined the effect of illness in one spouse on the risk of illness in a partner--commonly called the "caregiver burden." Concurrently, they looked at the effect of the death of one spouse on the mortality of the other, known as the "widower effect." By considering these effects together for the first time, the authors were able to assess the implications of specific illnesses or diseases for a partner's risk of death.

To participate in the teleconference, please call 617-432-0442 and RSVP.

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2006
11am-12pm US EST

Please RSVP to obtain the call-in number and password, and an advanced copy of the embargoed press release and paper.

The national teleconference is for registered media only. The information obtained prior to the call-in is embargoed until Wednesday, Feb. 15, 5pm US EST.

Nicholas Christakis, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Health Care Policy
Harvard Medical School

Paul Allison, PhD
Professor and chair, Department of Sociology
University of Pennsylvania

Suzanne Salamon, MD
Associate Chief for Clinical Geriatrics, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School


HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL Harvard Medical School has more than 5,000 full-time faculty working in eight academic departments based at the School's Boston quadrangle or in one of 47 academic departments at 18 Harvard teaching hospitals and research institutes. Those Harvard hospitals and research institutions include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, The CBR Institute for Biomedical Research, Children's Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Forsyth Institute, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Joslin Diabetes Center, Judge Baker Children's Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, McLean Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, Schepens Eye Research Institute, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, and VA Boston Healthcare System. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT: Leah Gourley and John lacey, 617-432-0442, [email protected]

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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