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Single and Safe in China?

By Christine Grillo

In a milestone study in China, researchers have found that among Chinese 65 years and older, those most likely to sustain injuries are divorced or widowed. The study, a joint effort among Chinese researchers and the Center for Injury Research and Policy (CIRP), determined that the divorced elderly are 4.6 times more likely to become injured than single elderly, and the widowed are twice as likely. The group third-most likely to sustain an injury are those who are married, with the unmarried elderly faring the best.

“The results indicate the divorced and widowed elderly should be targeted as high-risk groups for injury,” says Susan P. Baker, MPH ’68, professor and CIRP’s first director.

The study used data from a Chinese National Health Service survey, which included injury questions for the first time. the study, led by Guoqing Hu, PhD, from Central South University in China, was the first to examine causes of and risk factors for nonfatal injuries among the Chinese elderly.

In addition to uncovering the association with marital status, the study found that falls are the most common injury for elderly Chinese, and that most injuries occur in the home.