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To determine the preliminary feasibility, acceptability, and effects of Meaning-Centered Grief Therapy (MCGT) for parents who lost a child to cancer.
Parents who lost a child to cancer and who were between six months and six years after loss and reporting elevated levels of prolonged grief were enrolled in open trials of MCGT, a manualized, one-on-one cognitive-behavioral-existential intervention that used psychoeducation, experiential exercises, and structured discussion to explore themes related to meaning, identity, purpose, and legacy. Parents completed 16 weekly sessions, 60–90 minutes in length, either in person or through videoconferencing. Parents were administered measures of prolonged grief disorder symptoms, meaning in life, and other assessments of psychological adjustment preintervention, mid-intervention, postintervention, and at three months postintervention. Descriptive data from both the in-person and videoconferencing open trial were pooled.
Eight of 11 (72%) enrolled parents started the MCGT intervention, and six of eight (75%) participants completed all 16 sessions. Participants provided positive feedback about MCGT. Results showed postintervention longitudinal improvements in prolonged grief (d = 1.70), sense of meaning (d = 2.11), depression (d = 0.84), hopelessness (d = 1.01), continuing bonds with their child (d = 1.26), posttraumatic growth (ds = 0.29–1.33), positive affect (d = 0.99), and various health-related quality of life domains (d = 0.46–0.71). Most treatment gains were either maintained or increased at the three-month follow-up assessment.
Significance of results
Overall, preliminary data suggest that this 16-session, manualized cognitive-behavioral-existential intervention is feasible, acceptable, and associated with transdiagnostic improvements in psychological functioning among parents who have lost a child to cancer. Future research should examine MCGT with a larger sample in a randomized controlled trial.
Caregiving partners constitute a unique group, who provide both physical and emotional care for patients. There has been extensive research conducted on caregivers during either the caregiving or bereavement phase; however, these phases are often treated as separate entities rather than as part of a continuum.
In this paper, utilizing relevant literature and clinical observations, we map the emotional journey and lived experience of caregivers moving from disease progression, to the end of life, to the dying process itself, and then through life after the death of a partner. Along this journey, we identify the links between pre-death caregiving and bereavement.
Our illustration raises awareness regarding the unmet needs experienced by caregiving partners across the continuum and provides an alternative framework through which clinicians can view this course.
of Results We bolster arguments for improved palliative care services and early interventions with distressed caregiving partners by emphasizing continuity of care both before and after a patient's death.
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