Divorced people are more than twice as likely than married people to die from what the World Health Organization cites as the most-preventable causes of accidental death—fire, poisoning and smoke inhalation. (Credit: iStockphoto)

Divorced more likely to die accidentally

People who are divorced are more likely to die from preventable accidents than those who are married, research shows.

Single people and those with low educational attainment are also at greater risk for accidental death, according to a new study that examines the links among social relationships, socio-economic status, and how long and well people live.

It finds that divorced people are more than twice as likely than married people to die from what the World Health Organization (WHO) cites as the most-preventable causes of accidental death.

These include fire, poisoning and smoke inhalation—and are equally likely to die from the least-preventable causes of accidental death—air and water transportation mishaps.

Also, compared with married adults, single people are twice as likely to die from the most preventable causes of accidental death and equally likely to die from the least preventable causes of accidental death.

People with low educational attainment, compared with more highly educated adults, are more than twice as likely to die from the most-preventable accidents and equally likely to die from the least-preventable accidents.

For the study, published in Social Science Research, the authors compared 1,302,090 adults aged 18 and older who survived or died from accidents between 1986 and 2006. The data was from multiple years of the National Health Interview Survey, which includes demographic information about participants from throughout the 50 states, including age, race and income.

Accidental underlying causes of death are defined through the World Health Organization’s 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death.

Looking out for each other

It stands to reason that if social relationships and socio-economic resources prolong life, then they should be more important in situations where death can reasonably be avoided and less valuable in situations that closely resemble random events, says Justin Denney, assistant professor of sociology at Rice University.

“Well-educated individuals, on average, have greater socio-economic resources, which can be used to their advantage to prevent accidental death (i.e., safeguarding a home from fire).

“In addition, these individuals tend to be more knowledgeable about practices that may harm their health, such as excessive alcohol and drug use.

“And marital status is influential in that it can provide positive support, may discourage a partner’s risk, and offer immediate support that saves lives in the event of an emergency.”

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania contributed to the study.

Source: Rice University

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