Assessing the determinants of the wish to die among the elderly population in Ghana

Simmons, Sally Sonia, Maiolo, Valeria, Ahinkorah, Bright Opoku, Hagan, John Elvis, Seidu, Abdul Aziz, and Schack, Thomas (2021) Assessing the determinants of the wish to die among the elderly population in Ghana. Geriatrics, 6 (1). 32.

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Background: A wish to die is common in elderly people. Concerns about death wishes among the elderly have risen in Ghana, where the ageing transition is comparable to other low-and middle-income countries. However, nationally representative research on death wishes in the elderly in the country is not readily available. Our study aimed to assess the determinants of the wish to die among the elderly in Ghana.

Methods: We analysed data from the World Health Organisation Global Ageing and Adult Health Survey, Wave 1 (2007–2008) for Ghana. Data on the wish to die, socio-demographic profiles, health factors and substance abuse were retrieved from 2147 respondents aged 65 and above. Ages of respondents were categorised as 65–74 years; 75–84 years; 85+ to reflect the main stages of ageing. Logistic regression models were fitted to assess the association between these factors and the wish to die.

Results: Age, sex, place of residence, education, body mass index, hypertension, stroke, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, income, diabetes, visual impairment, hopelessness and depression had statistically significant associations with a wish to die. Older age cohorts (75–84 and 85+) were more likely to have the wish to die (AOR = 1.05, CI = 1.02–1.16; AOR = 1.48, CI = 1.22–1.94), compared to younger age cohorts (65–74 years). Persons who felt hopeless had higher odds (AOR = 2.15, CI = 2.11–2.20) of experiencing the wish to die as compared to those who were hopeful.

Conclusions: In view of the relationship between socio-demographic (i.e., age, sex, education and employment), hopelessness, anthropometric (body mass index), other health factors and the wish to die among the elderly in Ghana, specific biopsychosocial health promotion programmes, including timely identification of persons at risk, for appropriate intervention (e.g., psychotherapy, interpersonal support, alcohol-tobacco cessation therapy, clinical help) to promote their wish for a longer life is needed.

Item ID: 70732
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2308-3417
Keywords: Elderly, Ghana, Public health, Risk factors, Suicide, Wish to die
Copyright Information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
Date Deposited: 25 May 2022 01:55
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