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Aging Ment Health. 2014;18(3):354-62. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2013.833164. Epub 2013 Sep 30.

Randomised controlled trial of a cognitive narrative intervention for complicated grief in widowhood.

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  • 1a ISCS-N, CESPU, CICS - UnIPSa , Gandra , Portugal.



The implementation of bereavement interventions is frequently requested, and its effectiveness has been controversial. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of a cognitive narrative intervention for complicated grief (CG) for controlling post-traumatic and depressive issues.


The study is a randomised controlled trial and uses the Socio Demographic Questionnaire (SDQ), the Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Impact of Events Scale-Revised (IES-R). There were three phases in the study: (1) The SDQ and CG evaluations were applied to bereaved elders (n = 82). The bereaved elders with the 40 highest ICG values (≥25) were randomly allocated into two groups: the intervention group (n = 20) and control group (n = 20); (2) participants were evaluated using the BDI and IES-R and the IG gave informed consent to participate in an intervention with four weekly 60-min sessions addressing recall, emotional and cognitive subjectivation, metaphorisation and projecting. (3) Two months later, the ICG, BDI and IES-R assessments were repeated.


Outcome measures showed a statistically significant reduction of CG, depressive and traumatic symptoms compared to the controls. Very high effect sizes for the ICG, BDI and IES-R reflect the effectiveness of the intervention along the longitudinal profile.


These results reinforce the importance of brief interventions that combine a reduced number of sessions with lower costs, which is reflected in an increased adherence to the programme along with high effectiveness.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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