Bereavement and marriage are associated with antibody response to influenza vaccination in the elderly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Stressful life events exposure including bereavement, an event commonly experienced by elderly people, social support, marital status, and satisfaction were examined in relation to antibody response to the annual trivalent influenza vaccination in an elderly community sample (N=184). Antibody response was assessed at baseline, and at I and 12 months following vaccination. Taking into account baseline antibody titer, overall life events exposure and social support were not associated with response to any of the influenza strains. However, bereavement in the year prior to vaccination was negatively associated with the I-month response to the A/Panama and B/Shangdong strains. Being married and having higher marital satisfaction was also associated with higher peak responses to the A/Panama influenza strain at I month. The positive association between marital satisfaction and A/Panama response was particularly evident in the younger half of the married sample. These associations largely withstood adjustment for potential con-founders. Thus, in the elderly, peak antibody response was associated with bereavement and marriage, and not the more general factors, life events and social support, related to antibody response in student samples. This suggests the importance of taking a life course approach to examining relationships between psychosocial factors and immunity, and that interventions to modify the impact of these factors should address those most salient for each age group. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalBrain, Behaviour, and Immunity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2006


  • marital status, influenza vaccination, bereavement, marital satisfaction, social support, elderly, stressful life events