To investigate whether parentally bereaved offspring are more likely to engage in health risk behaviors than nonbereaved control offspring.
Controlled population-based study.
Bereaved families were recruited from coroner records and by advertisement. Control families were recruited using random-digit dialing and by advertisement.
At 9.0 months after the death, 186 offspring aged 7 to 25 years of parents who died of suicide, accident, or sudden natural death were compared with 167 nonbereaved control offspring.
Main Outcome Measures
The association of bereavement with health risk behaviors was examined. The prevalences of health risk behaviors on the Youth Risk Behavior Questionnaire were compared between bereaved and nonbereaved offspring. Risk behaviors surveyed were related to unintentional injury, violence, sexual behavior, cigarette smoking, and alcohol or other drug use.
No statistically significant difference was noted in the examined health risk behaviors between bereaved and nonbereaved offspring.
Bereaved offspring did not engage in more health risk behaviors compared with nonbereaved offspring. Primary care physicians counseling youth should inquire about health risk behaviors in general.