The effectiveness of an unguided online grief-specific cognitive behavioral therapy for people who have lost a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic
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The current COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster leading to an increase of traumatic losses worldwide. These traumatic losses consequently lead to expanding levels of complicated grief-symptoms in bereaved individuals. To overcome this rise in cases of complicated grief, the present study investigates the efficacy of an online grief-specific Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) intervention for bereaved individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible participants were randomized to either the treatment group (N=21) or waitlist-control group (N=32). The intervention consisted of an eight-week unguided online behavioral therapy. PCBD, PTSD and depression symptom severity were assessed at 1) pre-treatment/pre-waiting period and 2) post-treatment and/or post-waiting period. Assessment consisted of clinical telephone interviews. Analyses of Covariance (ANCOVA) revealed that participants allocated to the treatment group improved significantly, in comparison to participants allocated to the waitlist-control group, on symptoms of PCBD, as well as PTSD. These results were found, while taking the use of co-interventions and baseline symptom-levels into account as covariates. As this is the first evidence-based study investigating the effectiveness of an online grief-specific CBT intervention, the results are meaningful for clinical practice.