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Compr Psychiatry. 2004 Nov-Dec;45(6):475-82.

Complicated grief in Bosnian refugees: associations with posttraumatic stress disorder and depression.

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School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.


Complicated grief is likely to be common among refugee populations exposed to war trauma. However, there have been few studies investigating the traumatic antecedents and correlates of complicated grief in refugees, and the relationship of that symptom pattern with other common disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. We studied Bosnian refugees recruited from a community center in Sydney, Australia, with the sample being supplemented by a snowball method (N = 126; response rate, 86%). Measures included a trauma inventory, the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), the depression module of the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID), and the Core Bereavement Items (CBI). A dimension of traumatic loss derived from the trauma inventory was a specific predictor of complicated grief, with exposure to human rights violations being associated with images of the traumatic events surrounding the lost person. There was no link between PTSD and grief other than for a low-order association with the PTSD intrusion dimension. In contrast, depression was strongly associated with grief and its subscales. Only the subgroup with comorbid grief and depression reported higher levels of traumatic loss. The results suggest that complicated grief in refugees can become persistent and associated with depression. While PTSD and grief share common symptoms of intrusion, the two symptom domains are sufficiently distinct to warrant independent assessment of grief in refugee populations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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