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Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry


This feasibility and acceptance pilot study for preventing complications of bereavement within the first year post loss recruited 20 adult grievers within 9 months of becoming bereft and assigned consenting subjects to peer supporters trained by a non-profit bereavement support organization for weekly or bi-weekly telephone-based peer support until month 13 post-loss. Subjects who met DSM-5 criteria for major depressive disorder or showed an Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG) score exceeding 19, 6 months or more post loss, were assigned to 12 to 16 weeks of interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) with an experienced therapist. Eight and six subjects completed the protocol assigned to peer support and IPT, respectively, with pre/post Patient Health Questionnaire-9 scores of 5.38 (2.45) versus 3.25 (4.13) (p = 0.266) and 16.67 (7.17) versus 8.40 (5.73) (p =0.063); and pre/post ICG scores of 12.50 (4.72) versus 5.00 (2.51) (p = 0.016) and 35.17 (5.12) versus 8.4 (5.73) (p = 0.063). Implications of this two-tiered model of early intervention for preventing complications of grief are discussed.

Source Citation

Miller MD, Stack J, Reynolds CF III. A Two-Tiered Strategy for Preventing Complications of Bereavement in the First Thirteen Months Post-Loss: A Pilot Study Using Peer Supports with Professional Therapist Back-up. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 2018;26(3):350-357. doi:10.1016/j.jagp.2017.05.011