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J Clin Child Psychol. 1998 Dec;27(4):434-41.

Psychological symptomatology following parental death in a predominantly minority sample of children and adolescents.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA, USA.


Examined the psychological correlates related to experiencing the death of a parent, the main and interactive effects of sex, race, and age on youth distress and the degree of cross-informant correspondence on the outcome measures. The predominately minority sample included 80 bereaved youth and 45 nonbereaved youth. Youth and their legal guardians completed a battery of questionnaires, including measures assessing the youth's psychological symptomatology. Results revealed that bereaved youth manifested greater psychological and behavior problems than their nonbereaved counterparts on guardian-reported measures (Child Behavior Checklist [CBCL]). The clinical significance of parental death experienced during childhood is indicated by the magnitude of distress exhibited by the bereaved sample; almost one quarter of bereaved youth scored in the clinical distress range (T score > or = 63) on the CBCL Externalizing and Internalizing Distress scales. The effect of parental death on guardian-reported externalizing distress was moderated by race, such that distress levels did not significantly differ between bereaved and nonbereaved minority youth but did differ significantly among bereaved and nonbereaved nonminority youth. Finally, the degree of cross-informant agreement was relatively low but consistent with prior studies. Study implications for interventions with bereaved youth and directions for future research are discussed.

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