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Subjectively assessed health is related to mortality. Various subjective indicators of health have been studied, but it is unclear whether perceived physical functioning or mental health best accounts for the relation with mortality.
We studied the relation of subjective measures of health with all-cause mortality in 5538 participants of age 55 to 96 years at baseline from the Rotterdam Study. Various instruments of subjectively assessed health were used, that included basic activities of daily living (BADL), instrumental activities of daily living (IADL), quality of life (QoL), positive affect, somatic symptoms and negative affect. All participants completed questionnaires for each subjective measure of health and were followed for mortality for a mean of 12.2 (s.e. = 0.09) years. Cox regression analysis was conducted in the total sample.
In this cohort, 2021 persons died during 48 534 person-years of follow-up. All measures of subjective health were related to mortality after adjusting for age, gender, education, cognition, prevalent chronic diseases and cardiovascular risk [BADL hazard ratio (HR, calculated per Z-score) = 1.35, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.29–1.41; IADL HR = 1.27, 95% CI 1.22–1.32; QoL HR = 0.85, 95% CI 0.81–0.89; positive affect HR = 0.92, 95% CI 0.88–0.96; somatic symptoms HR = 1.11, 95% CI 1.06–1.16; and negative affect HR = 1.05, 95% CI 1.01–1.10]. In the mutually adjusted model, only BADL (HR = 1.24, 95% CI 1.16–1.32) and IADL (HR = 1.10, 95% CI 1.04–1.17) remained independently associated with mortality.
Measures of subjectively assessed health are important indicators of mortality. Our study shows that of the different measures of subjective health, perceived physical health predicts mortality over and above mental health. Conversely, the association between mental health and mortality may partly be explained by poor perceived physical health.
Several psychosocial risk factors for complicated grief have been described. However, the association of complicated grief with cognitive and biological risk factors is unclear. The present study examined whether complicated grief and normal grief are related to cognitive performance or structural brain volumes in a large population-based study.
The present research comprised cross-sectional analyses embedded in the Rotterdam Study. The study included 5501 non-demented persons. Participants were classified as experiencing no grief (n = 4731), normal grief (n = 615) or complicated grief (n = 155) as assessed with the Inventory of Complicated Grief. All persons underwent cognitive testing (Mini-Mental State Examination, Letter–Digit Substitution Test, Stroop Test, Word Fluency Task, word learning test – immediate and delayed recall), and magnetic resonance imaging to measure general brain parameters (white matter, gray matter), and white matter lesions. Total brain volume was defined as the sum of gray matter plus normal white matter and white matter lesion volume. Persons with depressive disorders were excluded and analyses were adjusted for depressive symptoms.
Compared with no-grief participants, participants with complicated grief had lower scores for the Letter–Digit Substitution Test [Z-score −0.16 v. 0.04, 95% confidence interval (CI) −0.36 to −0.04, p = 0.01] and Word Fluency Task (Z-score −0.15 v. 0.03, 95% CI −0.35 to −0.02, p = 0.02) and smaller total volumes of brain matter (933.53 ml v. 952.42 ml, 95% CI −37.6 to −0.10, p = 0.04).
Participants with complicated grief performed poorly in cognitive tests and had a smaller total brain volume. Although the effect sizes were small, these findings suggest that there may be a neurological correlate of complicated grief, but not of normal grief, in the general population.
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