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 HMSaffiliated 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, Ph

Contact: John Lacey
Harvard Medical School

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