Effectiveness of Grief-specific Online Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Reducing Prolonged Grief, Posttraumatic Stress, and Depression Symptoms in People Who Lost a Loved One During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Aydın Misirci, Beyza
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Abstract The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many deaths and possibly many traumatic losses worldwide. Traumatic losses lead to prolonged grief disorder (PGD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. This randomized-controlled trial aimed to examine the effectiveness of unguided online grief-specific cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in reducing PGD, PTSD, and depression for adults bereaved during the COVID-19 pandemic. This thesis was based on an existing dataset of the completers-sample. The participants (N=65) were randomized to two groups: an intervention (N=32) or a waitlist group (N=33). Telephone interviews were conducted before and after the intervention/ waiting period to assess PGD, PTSD, and depression symptoms. PGD, PTSD and depression were measured with the Traumatic Grief Inventory-Clinician Administered (TGI-CA), PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 (PCL-5), and Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), respectively. The inclusion criteria were: 1) having bereaved at least three months earlier during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2) having clinically relevant levels of PGD, PTSD, and depression symptoms, 3) being older than eighteen. Participants in the treatment group received an eight-week-long online CBT which included exposure, cognitive restructuring, and behavioral activation assignments. Analyses of covariance were performed. Findings suggested that PGD and PTSD symptoms in people in the intervention group were significantly lower after treatment compared to people in the waitlist group after waiting. No significant effects were found for depression.