Grief and Trauma Reactions after Losing one’s Child. The Efficacy of Support Groups for Parents Bereaved due to Illness or Accident.
Kraan, C.J.C. van der
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Despite of resilient trajectories displayed by many of the bereaved, traumatic bereavement may result in symptoms of complicated grief (CG) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in survivors. Loss of a child is frequently defined as traumatic and bereaved parents have a high risk of poor bereavement outcome. In this study cause of death (i.e. illness, accident) was proposed as an additional risk factor, whereby parents bereaved due to an accident seemed to be at elevated risk for developing CG compared to parents bereaved due to illness, whereas bereaved parents in general seemed to be at risk for developing PTSD. Identifying bereaved parents as high risk has important clinical implications, since selecting participants by screening for risk level raises the chances of intervention leading to positive results. A quasi-experimental control group design was employed to examine efficacy of mutual support groups for bereaved parents. CG and PTSD symptoms of 58 parents were measured pre-intervention as well as post-intervention, whereby cause of death (i.e. illness, accident) was included as an additional independent variable. However, support groups did not show to have a positive effect on symptoms of CG and PTSD; neither for parents bereaved due to illness nor for parents bereaved due to accident. This might have been due to the small sample size of current study. Furthermore, the limitation of pre-existing groups may have had a considerable influence on the results. More research is needed for definite conclusions about efficacy of support groups for bereaved parents.