A mixed methods study was conducted to examine the association between poor mental health and loneliness among widowed older adults aged 65 and over, accounting for differential effects of gender and social support. The life course theory, social support and stress theory, and feminism/masculinity theories were used to frame this research. Data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (2008/09) was analyzed using a subsample of 4,163 widowed respondents. A hierarchical linear regression analysis was conducted to examine loneliness, mental health, and potential buffering of social support and gender interaction. These analyses were supplemented with qualitative interviews conducted with 20 widowed older adults to further explore experiences, challenges and coping strategies. Integrated findings reveal the mediating role of social support. Implications of the findings suggest the salience of resilience over the life course, mediating effects of social support, the gendered effects of widowhood, exploration of longitudinal studies and placing a greater focus on widowed older adults’ ethnic backgrounds. Suggested interventions include the expansion of bereavement services and intergenerational programs.
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Thesis advisor: Wister, Andrew
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