Childhood maltreatment, subjective social status, and health disparities in bereavement

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2022 Jan:135:105595. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2021.105595. Epub 2021 Nov 18.


Background: Spousal bereavement can lead to adverse health outcomes; however, not all widow(er)s experience the same degree of health problems. Thus, it is important to understand the contribution of disparities (e.g., childhood maltreatment and subjective social status) that may underlie adverse health outcomes that arise following bereavement.

Methods: We collected data from 130 spousally bereaved individuals at 3-time points (3 months post-loss, 4 months post-loss, and 6 months post-loss). Using mixed models, we assessed the interaction of childhood maltreatment, subjective social status, and time to predict changes in proinflammatory cytokine production, depressive symptoms, grief symptoms.

Results: We found a significant interaction between childhood maltreatment, subjective social status, and time predicting proinflammatory cytokine production (beta > -0.01, p = 0.048), depressive symptoms (beta = 0.008, p = .010), and grief symptoms (beta = 0.001 p = .001).

Conclusion: This study highlights the role of disparities related to childhood maltreatment and subjective social status on adverse health outcomes following spousal bereavement.

Keywords: Bereavement; Childhood maltreatment; Depressive symptoms; Grief symptoms; Proinflammatory cytokine production; Subjective social status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences* / statistics & numerical data
  • Bereavement*
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Grief
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Social Determinants of Health
  • Social Status*
  • Spouses* / psychology
  • Time Factors


  • Cytokines