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Relationship Between Gender and Death Anxiety


This critique is concerned with the qualitative article by Sharma et al. (2019) entitled “Death anxiety among elderly people: Role of gender, spirituality, and mental health.” The authors conceptualized spirituality and death anxiety and provided a brief literature review concerning the research on the matter. Sharma et al. (2019) mentioned that quite conflicting findings regarding the relationship between gender and death anxiety, as well as mental health, exist. The researchers also added that the topic had not been properly analyzed in the Indian context that differs from western settings in terms of spirituality.

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Statement of the Problem

The authors paid specific attention to defining the major terms and describing the phenomena of interest. They provided clear and comprehensive definitions of death anxiety and spirituality, which suggests that the study has a proper focus. Although the authors did not provide a clear justification of the utilized methodology, Sharma et al. (2019) sharply indicated the objectives of the study. The study aiming at the identification of the relationship between death anxiety and spirituality, as well as gender and mental health, was based on the use of the qualitative research design.

A certain weakness of the article in question is its lack of theoretical background. The authors do not identify the theoretical framework or philosophical underpinning that guides their research. The lack of philosophical orientation may lead to difficulties in choosing proper variables and analyzing them (Jacobsen, 2016). If researchers fail to choose a theoretical paradigm and philosophical perspective, they can interpret their findings in an inappropriate manner, which will result in low validity, as well as the relevance of their study.


The researchers utilized valid data collection tools to address the established goals of the study. Such measurements as General Health Questionnaire 28 (GHQ–28), Thakur Death Anxiety Scale, and Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES) were employed. These tools enabled the researchers to identify a clear relationship between the chosen variables. The validation of these measurements was conducted by different researchers. For example, Dhillon (2018) utilized the Thakur Death Anxiety Scale when examining the link between death anxiety and learned optimism with a focus on such variables as gender.

The Hindu version of DSES was validated by Husain et al. (2016), who explored the reliability and validity of the tool. Van Zyl (2018) found that the GHQ–28 was an effective instrument to identify the symptoms of death anxiety among the general population. Surveys are commonly used in qualitative studies as they are instrumental in identifying people’s attitudes and views regarding diverse topics (Jacobsen, 2016). It is noteworthy that the researchers do not provide sufficient details regarding the validation of the measures they employed. Sharma et al. (2019) only mention that standard validation procedures were utilized.

Surveys are also optimal for covering large samples, which contributes to the identification of more valuable insights and themes that can be explored. The chosen data collection method was properly designed as it enabled the researchers to identify the symptoms of anxiety, measure the level of spirituality, and explore the connection between anxiety and people’s spirituality. It is necessary to note that these tools have a considerable limitation, which is that they are based on self-reporting that can be associated with a certain degree of bias.


The authors provide a detailed description of the participants and sampling methods. The demographic data were given, and recruiting procedures were described (Sharma et al., 2019). The researchers also mentioned exclusion and inclusion criteria, which adds clarity and makes the study repeatable. The sample is appropriate (160 older patients) and sufficient for the detection of the link between the chosen variables and participants’ attitudes, although it is not sufficient to generalize data.

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Data Analysis

Data analysis procedures were described, but few details are available. It is mentioned that standard procedures were used to score and analyze the completed questionnaires. Sharma et al. (2019) noted that Pearson’s Product moment method of correlation, independent sample t-tests, and regression analysis were implemented. This section of the article is rather weak and leaves the reader with a limited understanding of the procedures. This part of the article could benefit from the inclusion of more details regarding the exact tools utilized and the validation of these instruments. At the same time, the researchers manage to remain true to the chosen design and the data. All in all, the lack of information presented in this section makes it difficult to repeat the research.


As far as the findings are concerned, they are provided concisely. The authors included tables and explanations of the data provided to them. Sharma et al. (2019) placed their findings within the context. The researchers referred to other studies conducted in the Indian and western settings, which helps readers to apprehend the findings and the relevance of the study. Sharma et al. (2019) found a direct link between death anxiety and a low level of spirituality. Regarding gender, females were more likely to experience death anxiety than males, and these correlations have been identified by other researchers as well (Sharma et al., 2019). Overall, the obtained information was consistent with the results of studies implemented in different parts of the world.

The article under consideration has quite a weak final part, where the implications and conclusions of the study are discussed. Sharma et al. (2019) only mentioned the potential use of their findings in the clinical setting as the ground for developing spirituality-centered projects for older patients. At the same time, the researchers did not include data concerning the limitations of the study and further research areas.

It is necessary to add that the limitations are rather visible, but they need to be properly articulated. For instance, the article would have been more effective if the authors had noted that a comparatively small sample prevented them from generalizing the data. It could be effective to add that the measurement of the link between the variable in diverse socio-economic groups could be the further step. These gaps make the reader rather confused about the exact conclusions and implications of the findings.


On balance, it is possible to note that the article by Sharma et al. (2019) provides multiple insights into the relationship between death anxiety, spirituality, and gender among older patients in the Indian context. The author’s employed valid tools and presented the obtained results in detail. However, the researchers failed to provide the necessary information regarding the validation of the data collection and analysis instruments. The researchers did not include a description of the limitations of the study, major implications, and further steps that could be undertaken. These gaps make the article of limited value as it can be difficult to repeat and verify. Nevertheless, the study is valuable as it includes important details concerning particular mental health issues among a specific population in an Indian setting.


Dhillon, S. K. (2018). Relation of learned optimism and death anxiety: A comparative study of gender and developmental differences. International journal of basic and applied research, 8(9), 658-669.

Husain, A., Singh, R., Khan, S. M., & Khan, S. (2016). Psychometrics and standardization of the Hindi adaptation of the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale. Clinical and Experimental Psychology, 2(2), 1-6.

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Jacobsen, K. H. (2016). Introduction to health research methods. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Sharma, P., Asthana, H. S., Gambhir, I. S., & Ranjan, J. K. (2019). Death anxiety among elderly people: Role of gender, spirituality and mental health. Indian Journal of Gerontology, 33(3), 240-254.

Van Zyl, C. (2018). A network analysis of the General Health Questionnaire. Journal of Health Psychology, 1-11.

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