The Melbourne family grief study, II: Psychosocial Morbidity and Grief in Bereaved Families

David W. Kissane, Sidney Bloch, Patrick Onghena, Dean P. McKenzie, Ray D. Snyder, David L. Dowe

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Objective: The aim of this study was to described the intensity of grief, the psychosocial morbidity, and the coping patterns in members of families classified according to a typology of family functioning comprising supportive, conflict-resolving, intermediate, sullen, and hostile classes. Method: One hundred fifteen families were assessed longitudinally 6 weeks (time 1), 6 months (time 2), and 13 months (time 3) after the death of a parent (constituting 670 individual responses) on measures of grief intensity, psychological state, social adjustment, and family coping. A previously described typology of perceptions of family functioning was applied. Repeated measures multivariate analysis of variance based on both individuals and families and post hoc comparisons of significant results were undertaken. Results: Sullen families displayed the most intense grief and the most severe psychosocial morbidity. Well-functioning families (supportive and conflict-resolving) resolved their grief and adjusted more adaptively than their dysfunctional counterparts (intermediate, sullen, and hostile families). There were no cluster-by-time interactions. The clusters accounted for 15.7% of the variance in depression (Beck Depression Inventory) and 27.9% of the variance in social functioning (Social Adjustment Scale). Well- functioning families used more family coping strategies (Family Crisis Oriented Personal Evaluation Scale). Conclusions: More intense grief and greater psychosocial morbidity are found in sullen, hostile, and intermediate bereaved families than in the more adaptive supportive and conflict-resolving types. At-risk families are identifiable and could be treated preventively to reduce morbidity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-666
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996

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