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Despite the frequency that refugees suffer bereavement, there is a dearth of research into the prevalence and predictors of problematic grief reactions in refugees. To address this gap, this study reports a nationally representative population-based study of refugees to determine the prevalence of probable prolonged grief disorder (PGD) and its associated problems.
This study recruited participants from the Building a New Life in Australia (BNLA) prospective cohort study of refugees admitted to Australia between October 2013 and February 2014. The current data were collected in 2015–2016, and comprised 1767 adults, as well as 411 children of the adult respondents. Adult refugees were assessed for trauma history, post-migration difficulties, probable PGD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mental illness. Children were administered the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.
In this cohort, 38.1% of refugees reported bereavement, of whom 15.8% reported probable PGD; this represents 6.0% of the entire cohort. Probable PGD was associated with a greater likelihood of mental illness, probable PTSD, severe mental illness, currently unemployed and reported disability. Children of refugees with probable PGD reported more psychological difficulties than those whose parents did not have probable PGD. Probable PGD was also associated with the history of imprisonment, torture and separation from family. Only 56.3% of refugees with probable PGD had received psychological assistance.
Bereavement and probable PGD appear highly prevalent in refugees, and PGD seems to be associated with disability in the refugees and psychological problems in their children. The low rate of access to mental health assistance for these refugees highlights that there is a need to address this issue in refugee populations.
Distinguishing a disorder of persistent and impairing grief from normative grief allows clinicians to identify this often undetected and disabling condition. As four diagnostic criteria sets for a grief disorder have been proposed, their similarities and differences need to be elucidated.
Participants were family members bereaved by US military service death (N = 1732). We conducted analyses to assess the accuracy of each criteria set in identifying threshold cases (participants who endorsed baseline Inventory of Complicated Grief ⩾30 and Work and Social Adjustment Scale ⩾20) and excluding those below this threshold. We also calculated agreement among criteria sets by varying numbers of required associated symptoms.
All four criteria sets accurately excluded participants below our identified clinical threshold (i.e. correctly excluding 86–96% of those subthreshold), but they varied in identification of threshold cases (i.e. correctly identifying 47–82%). When the number of associated symptoms was held constant, criteria sets performed similarly. Accurate case identification was optimized when one or two associated symptoms were required. When employing optimized symptom numbers, pairwise agreements among criteria became correspondingly ‘very good’ (κ = 0.86–0.96).
The four proposed criteria sets describe a similar condition of persistent and impairing grief, but differ primarily in criteria restrictiveness. Diagnostic guidance for prolonged grief disorder in International Classification of Diseases, 11th Edition (ICD-11) functions well, whereas the criteria put forth in Section III of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) are unnecessarily restrictive.
The short-term impact of prolonged grief disorder (PGD) following bereavement is well documented. The longer term sequelae of PGD however are poorly understood, possibly unrecognized, and may be incorrectly attributed to other mental health disorders and hence undertreated.
The aims of this study were to prospectively evaluate the prevalence of PGD three years post bereavement and to examine the predictors of long-term PGD in a population-based cohort of bereaved cancer caregivers.
A cohort of primary family caregivers of patients admitted to one of three palliative care services in Melbourne, Australia, participated in the study (n = 301). Sociodemographic, mental health, and bereavement-related data were collected from the caregiver upon the patient's admission to palliative care (T1). Further data addressing circumstances around the death and psychological health were collected at six (T2, n = 167), 13 (T3, n = 143), and 37 months (T4, n = 85) after bereavement.
At T4, 5% and 14% of bereaved caregivers met criteria for PGD and subthreshold PGD, respectively. Applying the total PGD score at T4, linear regression analysis found preloss anticipatory grief measured at T1 and self-reported coping measured at T2 were highly statistically significant predictors (both p < 0.0001) of PGD in the longer term.
For almost 20% of caregivers, the symptoms of PGD appear to persist at least three years post bereavement. These findings support the importance of screening caregivers upon the patient's admission to palliative care and at six months after bereavement to ascertain their current mental health. Ideally, caregivers at risk of developing PGD can be identified and treated before PGD becomes entrenched.
The 2004 tsunami, the civil conflict until 2009 and the youth insurrection in the late 1980s in Sri Lanka resulted in many persons being classified as ‘missing’ as they disappeared and were unaccounted for. Our aim was to compare the prevalence of major depressive disorder (MDD) and prolonged grief disorder (PGD) in families of disappeared individuals, who eventually received the mortal remains and those who did not.
An ethically approved cross sectional study was conducted in a purposively selected sample after informed consent. Information on the circumstances of the family member going missing was gathered. Culturally adapted versions of the General Health Questionnaire and the Beck Depression Scale were administered. Those who screened positive were assessed by a psychiatrist on Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 criteria to arrive at a diagnosis.
Of 391 cases of disappearances studied, MDD (17.5% v. 6%) and PGD (22% v. 7%) were significantly higher in those who did not eventually receive the mortal remains of the disappeared person. Among those who did not receive the mortal remains, being unsure whether the disappeared person was dead or alive was highly predictive of MDD and PGD. Mothers and wives, older family members and those with a family history of mental illness were more vulnerable.
Family members of missing individuals unsure whether their loved one was alive or dead have higher psychological morbidity in the form of MDD and PGD.
Identifying characteristics of individuals at greatest risk for prolonged grief disorder (PGD) can improve its detection and elucidate the etiology of the disorder. The Safe Passage Study, a study of women at high risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), prospectively examined the psychosocial functioning of women while monitoring their healthy pregnancies. Mothers whose infants died of SIDS were followed in bereavement.
Pre-loss data were collected from 12 000 pregnant mothers and analyzed for their associations with grief symptoms and PGD in 50 mothers whose infants died from SIDS, from 2 to 48 months after their infant's death, focusing on pre-loss risk factors of anxiety, depression, alcohol use, maternal age, the presence of other living children in the home, and previous child loss.
The presence of any four risk factors significantly predicted PGD for 24 months post-loss (p < 0.003); 2–3 risk factors predicted PGD for 12 months (p = 0.02). PGD rates increased in the second post-loss year, converging in all groups to approximately 40% by 3 years. Pre-loss depressive symptoms were significantly associated with PGD. Higher alcohol intake and older maternal age were consistently positively associated with PGD. Predicted risk scores showed good discrimination between PGD and no PGD 6–24 months after loss (C-statistic = 0.83).
A combination of personal risk factors predicted PGD in 2 years of bereavement. There is a convergence of risk groups to high rates at 2–3 years, marked by increased PGD rates in mothers at low risk. The risk factors showed different effects on PGD.
The World Health Organization (WHO) International Classification of Disease (ICD-11) is expected to include a new diagnosis for prolonged grief disorder (ICD-11PGD). This study examines the validity and clinical utility of the ICD-11PGD guideline by testing its performance in a well-characterized clinical sample and contrasting it with a very different criteria set with the same name (PGDPLOS).
We examined data from 261 treatment-seeking participants in the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-sponsored multicenter clinical trial to determine the rates of diagnosis using the ICD-11PGD guideline and compared these with diagnosis using PGDPLOS criteria.
The ICD-11PGD guideline identified 95.8% [95% confidence interval (CI) 93.3–98.2%] of a treatment-responsive cohort of patients with distressing and impairing grief. PGDPLOS criteria identified only 59.0% (95% CI 53.0–65.0%) and were more likely to omit those who lost someone other than a spouse, were currently married, bereaved by violent means, or not diagnosed with co-occurring depression. Those not diagnosed by PGDPLOS criteria showed the same rate of treatment response as those who were diagnosed.
The ICD-11PGD diagnostic guideline showed good performance characteristics in this sample, while PGDPLOS criteria did not. Limitations of the research sample used to derive PGDPLOS criteria may partly explain their poor performance in a more diverse clinical sample. Clinicians and researchers need to be aware of the important difference between these two identically named diagnostic methods.
The provision of psychological support to caregivers is an important part of the role of the clinical staff working in palliative care. Staff knowledge and attitudes may determine their openness to referring caregivers to a psychological intervention. We recently developed a self-help intervention for grief and psychological distress among caregivers and were interested in exploring the extent to which staff knowledge and attitudes might affect future implementation. The aims of our study were to: (1) examine the acceptability of self-help psychological intervention for caregivers among palliative care clinical staff; (2) examine potential attitudinal barriers toward prolonged grief disorder (PGD) as a diagnosis and interventions for grief; and (3) bolster staff confidence in skills and knowledge in identifying and managing caregiver psychological distress.
An anonymous survey was distributed among clinical staff at two inpatient units and two community health services that assessed the acceptability of self-help interventions for caregivers, attitudes about PGD diagnosis and grief intervention, and staff confidence in skills and knowledge in assessing caregiver psychological distress.
Overall, clinical staff were positively oriented toward self-help for caregivers and intervention for grief. They were also basically confident in their skills and knowledge. While it was positive PGD attitudes that were associated with acceptability of self-help for caregivers, it was both positive and negative PGD attitudes that were associated more specifically with a willingness to refer caregivers to such an intervention.
Significance of results:
Our findings are useful in highlighting the issues to be considered in the implementation of a self-help intervention within the healthcare service. Clinical staff seemed positively oriented toward engaging with a psychological intervention for caregivers and likely to act as key allies in implementation.
This study aimed to contribute to the validation of the Portuguese version of the Prolonged Grief Disorder Questionnaire–Predeath (PG–12), examining its psychometric properties, including factorial, discriminant, and predictive validity. The prevalence of predeath prolonged grief disorder (PGD) and its psychosocial correlates were also analyzed.
The PG–12 was assessed in a sample of family caregivers (FCs) of oncological patients in palliative care. The factorial and discriminant validity of the PG–12 were evaluated by confirmatory factor analysis. The prevalence of predeath PGD was calculated and correlated with sociodemographic characteristics, perception of illness, intensity of care, coping, and caregiver burden. Prospective data were used to assess predictive validity.
The sample was composed of 94 FCs, mostly female (78.8%) and daughters (61.3%), with a mean age of 52.02 (SD = 12.87). The PG–12 has been shown to be reliable, to have high internal consistency, to be monofactorial in structure, and to be independent from depression, anxiety, and burden, although predeath grief influences these symptoms. In our sample, 33% met the criteria for predeath PGD. The circumstances and coping mechanisms are also correlated with predeath grief. The PG–12 has also been shown to be predictive of postdeath outcome.
Significance of results:
The PG–12 can be a useful screening tool for early identification of risk for maladjustment to loss among family caregivers.
This chapter explores both major depressive disorder (MDD) and prolonged grief disorder (PGD) as responses to disasters and terrorist events. MDD should be diagnosed in individuals for whom intense dysphoria and feelings of sadness persist and who experience related depressive symptoms. PGD is more severe and unremitting than normal grief. PGD is associated with considerable functional impairment, physical and mental health morbidity, lost productivity, suicide, and fewer quality adjusted life years. Studies have shown that PGD symptoms form a coherent cluster distinct from bereavement-related depressive and anxiety symptom clusters. Postdisaster prevalence of depression varies considerably across disasters and estimates can be misleading without additional information. Risk and resilience factors can be temporally categorized into three categories: preevent predictors, perievent predictors, and postevent predictors. Grief and depression-focused treatments are rarely implemented systematically in the wake of disasters.
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