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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2007 Apr;33(4):537-48. Epub 2007 Mar 15.

Patterns of attachment and parents' adjustment to the death of their child.

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  • 1Utrecht University.


The impact of adult attachment on psychological adjustment among bereaved parents and the mediating effect of relationship satisfaction were examined among a sample of 219 couples of parents. Data collection took place 6, 13, and 20 months after loss. Use of the actor partner interdependence model in multilevel regression analysis enabled exploration of both individual as well as partner attachment as predictors of grief and depression. Results indicated that the more insecurely attached parents were (on both avoidance and anxiety attachment), the higher the symptoms of grief and depression. Neither the attachment pattern of the partner nor similarity of attachment within the couple had any influence on psychological adjustment of the parent. Marital satisfaction partially mediated the association of anxious attachment with symptomatology. Contrary to previous research findings, avoidant attachment was associated with high grief intensity. These findings challenge the notion that the avoidantly attached are resilient.

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