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Symptoms of prolonged grief, posttraumatic stress, and depression in recently bereaved people: Symptom profiles, predictive value, and cognitive behavioural correlates

Boelen, P. A. & Lenferink, L. I. M., 8-Nov-2019, (Accepted/In press) In : Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.

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  • Final aut- Symptoms of Prolonged Grief, Posttraumatic Stress, and Depression

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Purpose: Prior latent class analyses (LCA) have focused on people who were bereaved more than six months earlier. Research has yet to examine patterns and correlates of emotional responses in the first few months of bereavement. We examined whether subgroups could be identified among very recently (≤6 months) bereaved adults, based on their endorsement of symptoms of prolonged grief disorder (PGD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. Associations of classmembership with overall disturbed grief, PTSD, and depression—assessed concurrently and at six months follow-up—were examined. Furthermore, we examined differences between classes regarding socio-demographics, loss-related, and cognitive behavioural variables. Methods: PGD, PTSD, and depression self-report data from 322 Dutch individuals bereaved ≤6 months earlier were subjected to LCA; N = 159 completed the follow-up assessment. Correlates of class-membership were examined. Results: Three classes were identified: a low symptom class (N = 114; 35.4%), a predominantly PGD class (N = 96; 29.8%), and a high symptom class (N = 112; 34.8%). PGD, PTSD, and depression scores (assessed concurrently and at six months follow-up) differed significantly between classes, such that low symptom class < predominantly PGD class < high symptom class. Being a woman, younger, more recently bereaved, experiencing deaths of a partner/child and unnatural losses, plus maladaptive cognitions and avoidance behaviours were associated with membership of the pervasive symptom classes. Conclusion: In the first six months of bereavement, meaningful subgroups of bereaved people can be distinguished, which highlights the relevance of early detection of people with elevated bereavement-related distress and offering them preventive interventions that foster adaptation to loss.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 8-Nov-2019

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