Cognitive therapy and EMDR for reducing psychopathology in bereaved people after the MH17 plane crash: Findings from a randomized controlled trial

Lenferink, L., de Keijser, J., Smid, G. & Boelen, P. A., 24-Mar-2020, In : Traumatology.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Experiencing a sudden/violent loss of a significant other is a risk factor for developing Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder (PCBD), depression, and/or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Cognitive Therapy (CT) combined with Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) might be an effective treatment for bereaved people with PCBD, depression, and/or PTSD symptoms after sudden/violent loss. We tested the effects of CT+EMDR versus waitlist controls in disaster-bereaved people.

In a multi-centre randomized controlled trial, changes in self-rated PCBD, depression, and PTSD levels were compared between an immediate treatment and waitlist control group in 39 Dutch people who experienced loss(es) in the disaster with flight MH17, using multi-level modelling. Associations between reductions in symptom levels and reductions in maladaptive cognitive-behavioral variables were examined using regression analyses.

The immediate treatment group showed a significantly stronger decline in depression (Hedges’ g = 0.61) compared with waitlist controls (Hedges’ g = 0.15). No significant between-group differences were found in PCBD and PTSD levels. Symptom reductions were correlated with reductions in maladaptive cognitive-behavioral variables.

While CT + EMDR coincided with symptom reductions associated with reductions in negative cognitions and avoidance behaviors, more research with larger samples is needed to further examine the effectiveness of CT + EMDR in bereaved people after sudden/violent loss.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24-Mar-2020


  • bereavement, grief, trauma, disaster, treatment

ID: 120595354