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Can J Nurs Res. 1997 Winter;29(4):51-72.

A bereavement intervention for parents following the sudden, violent deaths of their 12-28-year-old children: description and applications to clinical practice.

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Department of Psychosocial and Community Health, School of Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle, USA.


This report describes a randomized clinical trial with a longitudinal design involving parents bereaved by the violent deaths of their 12-28-year-old children, with a view to applying selected components of the study to clinical practice. Parents of children who died in the previous two to seven months by accident, homicide, or suicide were identified through the death certificates of the children. Of the 261 parents recruited and randomized to intervention and control conditions, 171 were mothers and 90 were fathers. Among the most important findings were: gender differences in both baseline distress and treatment response; and a very slow rate of reduction in distress over time, irrespective of participation in the intervention. Regardless of study group assignment and measurement period, mothers reported higher mental distress, more evidence of trauma, poorer loss accommodation, poorer physical health, and less marital satisfaction than did fathers. Among mothers, 85% met mental distress caseness criteria at baseline (2 to 7 months post-death), 81% met the criteria immediately following the treatment (5 to 10 months post-death), and 67% met the criteria six months later (11 to 16 months post-death). For fathers, 63% met mental distress caseness criteria at baseline, 71% met the criteria immediately post-treatment, and 69% met criteria six months later. Recommendations concern program planning, recruiting and retaining participants, screening and orientation of participants, program format, and evaluation.

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