Background: Previous studies have suggested that marital status is associated with mortality, but few studies have been conducted in China where increasing aging population and divorce rates may have major impact on health and total mortality.
Methods: We examined the association of marital status with mortality using data from the Shanghai Women's Health Study (1996-2009) and Shanghai Men's Health Study (2002-2009), two population-based cohort studies of 74,942 women aged 40-70 years and 61,500 men aged 40-74 years at the study enrollment. Deaths were identified by biennial home visits and record linkage with the vital statistics registry. Marital status was categorized as married, never married, divorced, widowed, and all unmarried categories combined. Cox regression models were used to derive hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence interval (CI).
Results: Unmarried and widowed women had an increased all-cause HR = 1.11, 95% CI: 1.03, 1.21 and HR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.20 respectively) and cancer (HR = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.32 and HR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.34 respectively) mortality. Never married women had excess all-cause mortality (HR = 1.46, 95% CI: 1.03, 2.09). Divorce was associated with elevated cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality in women (HR = 1.47, 95% CI: 1.01, 2.13) and elevated all-cause mortality (HR = 2.45, 95% CI: 1.55, 3.86) in men. Amongst men, not being married was associated with excess all-cause (HR = 1.45, 95% CI: 1.12, 1.88) and CVD (HR = 1.65, 95% CI: 1.07, 2.54) mortality.
Conclusions: Marriage is associated with decreased all cause mortality and CVD mortality, in particular, among both Chinese men and women.