Widowhood and depression among Chinese older adults: examining coping styles and perceptions of aging as mediators and moderators

Yunjun Li, Wallace Chi Ho Chan, Honglin Chen*, Maosheng Ran

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Based on the stress-coping framework, this study examined the role of coping styles and perceptions of aging in the relationship between widowhood and depression through two alternative pathways—mediation and moderation—with a national probability sample of older adults in China.

Method: The data came from the baseline wave of the China Longitudinal Aging Social Survey of 2014. Our final sample featured 8,404 older adults.

Results: The results of structural equation modeling showed a good fit for the total sample (NFI = .909, IFI = .916, GFI = .963, RMSEA = .038) and indicated the significant direct impact of widowhood on depression among Chinese older adults. Moreover, the findings of mediating effects found compared with a married group, widowed older adults used less problem-focused coping and had more negative perceptions of aging, which in turn, predicted higher depression; they were also more likely to use emotion-focused coping, which in turn, predicted lower depression. The results of moderation analysis demonstrated that a higher level of negative perceptions of aging significantly worsened the adverse effects of widowhood on depression.

Conclusion: Overall, our findings highlight the importance of a cognitive approach to targeting programs for widowed older adults in China, with a focus on strengthening their abilities to alter maladaptive copings styles and reauthor their life narratives.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1161-1169
Number of pages9
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number6
Early online date12 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

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