The Role of Culture in the Adjustment to Widowhood: Comparing Older Greek-Australian and British-Australian Migrant Women in South Australia
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The following paper is derived from a larger, Psychology Honours thesis conducted by the author (Georgia Panagiotopoulos) under the supervision of Prof. Mary Luszcz and Dr Ruth Walker in 2009. Widowhood affects many older women and is often associated with decreases in psychological and physical health. However, the influence of cultural background on the well-being of widowed women has been largely overlooked. The present study compared the widowhood experiences of two, culturally distinct groups of older women; British and Greek migrants to Australia. Participants were interviewed and completed questionnaires in either English or Greek. Factors thought to be protective for the well-being of widows, including continuing bonds to one’s spouse, mourning rituals, religiosity and social support were measured. Well-being was measured using three indicators of current adjustment, including self-rated health, and symptoms of depression and loneliness. Greek widows possessed greater bonds, rituals, and religiosity than their British counterparts. However, these factors were not associated with greater well-being, as Greek widows reported worse health and increased symptoms of depression and loneliness. Further research is required to determine whether older Greek-Australian widows are more vulnerable to maladjustment following bereavement.