divorce-psychology-mental health

Mental and Physical Health Suffer In Recently Divorced

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Gert Martin Hald, PhD

Head of Section (Environmental Health), Associate Professor
Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Basically, much of previous research has investigated mental and physical health of divorcees only after extensive separation periods, which is mandatory in most countries before juridical divorce unless infidelity or violence is involved in the divorce. During the time of data collection (2016-2019), Denmark where data was collected did not require separation periods before granting divorce. This means that as a first, we could investigate the mental and physical health of divorcees within days of them filling for divorce and perhaps better and more accurately pick up well-known adverse effects of mental- and physical health states of divorcees at the time of their divorce.  

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

divorce-psychology-mental health1) That the health-related quality of life (mental- and physical health) of divorcees was significantly worse than the comparative background population immediately following divorce and that

2) Across gender, higher levels of divorce conflict was found to predict worse mental health, even when controlling for other socio-demographic variables and divorce characteristics. NO. 2 IS NEW! Usually, in divorce research, it is a fact that ‘conflict accelerates’ e.g. adverse mental- and physical outcomes. However, no study to date has ‘proven’ this correcting for a large number of covariates (i.e., socio-demographic variables and divorce characteristics). We have and even when controlling for a host of these variables we still see the adverse accelerating effect of (increase) conflict on adverse mental and physical health outcomes.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: That if they feel bad after divorce or known someone who does it is normal and to be expected! This can actually be quite reassuring and comforting to know that ‘I am not alone’. So they need to be nice to themselves, patience and each other during the process! Also, I suggest seeking out help (friends, family, official offerings (if any) etc) as divorce is consistently rated as one of the most stressful life events in adulthood. If one is a friend, family member etc of a divorcee reach out and ask if they need to talk, comforting, practical help etc.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: As this is the first study to employ ‘real-time’ research I would like to see the study replicated in other cultures if possible to verify our findings and see how cultural contextual factors may influence results

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add? Any disclosures?

Response: I think it is important to help divorcees through the process of divorcing. Mental- and physical health effects are both expensive (loss of productivity, more sick days etc) and hurts those involved. Consequently, the development and employment of  evidence-based help to divorcees is both good human- and financial business. This could include evidence-based digital intervention solutions and/or face to face interventions.


Sander Søren, Strizzi Jenna Marie, Øverup Camilla S., Cipric Ana, Hald Gert Martin
When Love Hurts – Mental and Physical Health Among Recently Divorced Danes
Frontiers in Psychology     2020 3370
https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.578083     10.3389/fpsyg.2020.578083


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Last Updated on December 1, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD