Education as a Predictor of Antidepressant and Anxiolytic medication use after Bereavement: a population based record linkage study.

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Abstract

Purpose: Educational attainment has been shown to be positively associated with mental health and a potential buffer to stressful events. One stressful life event likely to affect everyone in their lifetime is bereavement. This paper assesses the effect of educational attainment on mental health post bereavement.
Methods: By utilising large administrative datasets, linking Census returns to death records and prescribed medication data, we analysed the bereavement exposure of 208,332 individuals aged 25-74 years. Two-level multi-level logistic regression models were constructed to determine the likelihood of antidepressant medication use (a proxy of mental ill-health) post bereavement given level of educational attainment.
Results: Individuals who are bereaved have greater antidepressant use than those who are not bereaved, with over a quarter (26.5%) of those bereaved by suicide in receipt of antidepressant medication compared to just 12.4% of those not bereaved. Within individuals bereaved by a sudden death those with a University Degree or higher qualifications are 73% less likely to be in receipt of antidepressant medication compared to those with no qualifications, after full adjustment for demographic, socio-economic and area factors (OR=0.27, 95% CI 0.09,0.75). Higher educational attainment and no qualifications have an equivalent effect for those bereaved by suicide.
Conclusions: Education may protect against poor mental health, as measured by the use of antidepressant medication, post bereavement, except in those bereaved by suicide. This is likely due to the improved cognitive, personal and psychological skills gained from time spent in education.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalQuality of Life Research
Early online date21 Oct 2016
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 21 Oct 2016

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