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Table 2 Characteristics of middle-aged and older adults who have never had death thoughts or wishes, who have at some point experienced death thoughts or wishes and who have a current wish to die or a weak wish to live ordered per domain of vulnerability

From: Current wishes to die; characteristics of middle-aged and older Dutch adults who are ready to give up on life: a cross-sectional study

Characteristics per domain of vulnerability Total Never death thoughts or wishes Has had death thoughts or wishes Current wish* p value
(n = 1563) (n = 1312) (n = 189) (n = 62)
%/µ (SD) %/µ (SD) %/µ (SD) %/µ (SD)
Demographics
Sex 0.053
 Male 46.4 47.7 41.3 35.5  
 Female 53.6 52.3 58.7 64.5  
Agea < 0.001
 < 65 years 27.6 26.4 38.1 21.0  
 65 to < 75 41.5 42.5 37.0 33.9  
 75 to < 85 23.1 23.9 18.0 22.6  
 ≥ 85 years 7.9 7.3 6.9 22.6  
Marital statusa  < 0.001
 Never married 7.4 6.0 16.9 8.1  
 Married and registered partnership 67.2 70.7 51.9 41.9  
 Divorced 8.1 6.9 13.8 14.5  
 Widowhood 17.3 16.4 17.5 35.5  
Level of attained education 0.107
 Low 32.8 33.7 24.9 38.7  
 Middle 38.5 38.3 41.3 32.3  
 High 28.7 28.0 33.9 29.0  
Level of urbanizationb 0.029
 Sparsely populated (< 1000) 44.9 46.4 38.8 33.9  
 Densely populated (≥ 1000) 54.9 53.6 61.2 66.1  
Housingc,d 0.007
 Independent living 99.4 99.5 99.5 95.2  
 Dependent living (residential or nursing home 0.6 0.5 0.5 4.8  
Physical vulnerability
Number of chronic diseases (out of 7)e 0.020
 0 diseases 24.6 25.9 18.5 14.5  
 1 disease 39.1 39.1 40.2 35.5  
 ≥ 2 diseases 36.3 35.0 41.3 50.0  
Incontinencea,b 0.027
 No 94.0 96.2 93.5 90.3  
 Yes 4.3 3.8 6.5 9.7  
Painb < 0.001
 No pain [5] 67.2 71.9 53.6 41.9  
 Some pain (6–7) 17.7 17.2 21.3 25.8  
 Many pain (> 7) 13.2 10.9 25.1 32.3  
Hearing impairmenta,b 0.011
 No impairment 66.3 70.0 61.6 61.7  
 Some difficulty 26.0 26.0 33.5 26.7  
 Much difficulty/not able to hear 4.3 4.0 4.9 11.7  
Visual impairmenta,b,d 0.294
 No impairment 85.3 90.1 86.7 85.0  
 Some difficulty 7.5 7.4 10.5 10.0  
 Much difficulty/not able to see 2.5 2.5 2.8 5.0  
Dizzinessa,b < 0.001
 No 87.4 91.9 84.3 75.0  
 Yes 9.3 8.1 15.7 25.0  
Number of activities with some difficulty or worse (out of 7)b  < 0.001
 0 activities 47.0 49.5 38.2 20.0  
 1 activity 21.7 21.4 22.0 28.3  
 ≥ 2 activities 31.3 29.1 39.8 51.7  
Balancea,b < 0.001
 No balance disorder 84.8 89.0 83.6 72.7  
 Balance disorder 10.4 9.6 14.8 25.5  
 Refused/not able to 1.4 1.4 1.6 1.8  
Whether or not help was received with personal carea 0.023
 No 96.8 97.3 94.2 93.5  
 Yes 3.2 2.7 5.8 6.5  
Sufficiency of received helpa,b,d < 0.001
 Sufficient 91.6 93.1 89.3 79.0  
 In between sufficient/insufficient 5.8 5.5 5.3 14.5  
 Insufficient 2.0 1.4 5.3 6.5  
Health problems limit normal activitiesa,b < 0.001
 No 60.8 63.5 48.7 41.9  
 Yes, slightly 29.5 28.1 34.4 43.5  
 Yes, severely 9.6 8.3 16.9 14.5  
Self-perceived healthb < 0.001
 Very good to excellent 29.2 31.7 21.4 11.5  
 Good 53.4 55.5 50.8 32.8  
 Fair to poor 16.1 12.8 27.8 55.7  
Cognitive vulnerability
MMSE scoreb < 0.001
 ≥ 27 83.0 83.1 88.9 66.1  
 10–26 16.9 16.9 11.1 33.9  
Problems with memoryb < 0.001
 No 66.0 69.0 53.4 43.5  
 Yes 33.8 31.0 46.6 56.5  
Social vulnerability
Lonelinessb < 0.001
 Not lonely (0–2) 74.2 77.7 65.1 29.0  
 Lonely (3–11) 25.8 22.3 34.9 71.0  
Network sizeb < 0.001
 0–12 34.6 33.2 35.7 63.6  
 13–20 30.5 31.1 28.6 21.8  
 21–70 34.9 35.7 35.7 14.5  
Health problems limit social activitiesa,b < 0.001
 Little/none of the time 76.3 80.6 61.5 39.3  
 Some of the time 18.2 15.9 28.3 37.7  
 Most/all of the time 5.0 3.4 10.2 23.0  
Self-perceived quality of lifea,b,d < 0.001
 Rather/very good 84.6 89.1 72.2 35.5  
 Neither poor nor good 12.6 9.5 24.1 45.2  
 Rather/very poor 2.4 1.5 3.7 19.4  
Financial problemsa,b,d < 0.001
 No 97.4 98.3 93.9 89.1  
 Yes 2.6 1.7 6.1 10.9  
Conflict with other person(s)b < 0.001
 No 89.1 90.5 80.7 83.6  
 Yes 10.9 9.5 19.3 16.4  
Illness of partner or spousea,f 0.558
 No 81.9 82.4 78.2 81.5  
 Yes 18.1 17.6 21.8 18.5  
Death of sons, daughters and/or grandchildrenc,d,f 0.037
 No 98.6 98.8 98.7 94.1  
 Yes 1.4 1.2 1.3 5.9  
Psychological vulnerability
Depressive symptomsb < 0.001
 Normal (< 16) 88.5 92.1 77.2 49.2  
 Depressive symptoms (≥ 16) 11.4 7.9 22.8 50.8  
Depression past yeara,b,d < 0.001
 No depression 96.9 99.1 93.5 82.5  
 Depression 2.2 0.9 6.5 17.5  
Anxietya,b,d < 0.001
 Normal (< 7) 92.3 94.8 84.1 65.6  
 Suggestive for anxiety disorder (8–10) 4.9 3.5 11.1 16.4  
 Anxiety disorder (> 10) 2.7 1.7 4.8 18.0  
Self-esteemg 15.6 (2.1) 15.3 (3.6) 14.1 (4.2) 11.5 (5.5) < 0.001
Perceived self-efficacy 44.0 (5.6) 44.3 (5.5) 43.3 (5.6) 40.0 (5.9) < 0.001
Mastery 24.7 (4.1) 25.1 (4.0) 23.3 (4.2) 21.6 (4.2) < 0.001
Lately satisfied with lifea,b < 0.001
 (Very) satisfied 83.7 88.2 70.7 38.7  
 Not dissatisfied/satisfied 12.3 9.4 22.3 45.2  
 (Very) dissatisfied 3.5 2.4 6.9 16.1  
Meaningfulness of lifea,b < 0.001
 Very much to an extreme amount 62.4 67.7 43.9 11.3  
 A moderate amount 34.0 30.5 48.7 67.7  
 A little to not at all 3.2 1.8 7.5 21.0  
  1. n, number of participants; µ, mean; SD, standard deviation; * current wish to die or a weak wish to live
  2. aMinimum expected count between 1 and 6
  3. bLess than 5% missing values
  4. cMinimum expected count less than 1
  5. dFisher–Freeman–Halton Exact Test was used
  6. eChronic diseases: chronic non-specific lung disease, cardiac disease, peripheral arterial disease, diabetes mellitus, cerebrovascular accident or stroke, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, cancer
  7. fAbove 5% missing values; illness of partner/spouse: 28.9% and death of sons, daughters and/or grandchildren: 11.5%
  8. gKruskal–Wallis test was used