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Psychiatr Serv. 2006 Sep;57(9):1291-7.

Screening for complicated grief among Project Liberty service recipients 18 months after September 11, 2001.

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Columbia University School of Social Work, New York City, USA.



The authors surveyed a sample of Project Liberty crisis counseling recipients approximately 1.5 years after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, to determine the proportion of respondents who screened positive for complicated grief, a recently identified condition marked by symptoms of continuing separation distress and accompanying bereavement-related traumatic distress.


A total of 149 service recipients drawn from eight high-volume providers responded to a telephone survey that included questions to screen for complicated grief.


Approximately half of the recipients knew someone who had been killed in the attacks. Of those recipients, 44 percent screened positive for complicated grief. Individuals who lost a family member were more likely than those who lost an acquaintance to screen positive for complicated grief. Positive screens were associated with functional impairment independent of the presence of symptoms consistent with full or subthreshold major depression or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Thirty-two percent of those who screened positive for complicated grief did not meet even subthreshold criteria for major depression or PTSD.


Results affirmed the importance of complicated grief as a unique condition and indicated the need to attend to the psychological consequences of bereavement in disaster-related mental health services.

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