Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences

Mathias Lasgaard

Comparison of proposed diagnostic criteria for pathological grief using a sample of elderly bereaved spouses in Denmark: Perspectives on future bereavement research

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Background: A distinct grief-specific disorder is included in the ICD-11. Lack of clarity remains regarding whether different proposed diagnostic criteria capture similar or different diagnostic entities. Our aim was to examine the specificity of four proposed diagnostic criteria-sets for pathological grief in a population-based sample. Methods: Participants were 206 conjugally bereaved elderly Danes (59% female; mean age = 72.5 years, SD = 4.2; range 65–81) who completed self-report questionnaires six months post-loss. The main measure was the Danish version of Inventory of Complicated Grief-Revised. Results: Results indicate substantial agreement between Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder (PCBD) and ICD-11-PGD (kappa's = 0.69–0.84), which found 6–9% of cases tested positive for pathological grief. Complicated Grief (CG) was partly in agreement with the three other symptom-diagnostic tests (kappa's = 0.13–0.20), and the prevalence-rate of pathological grief was 48%. Limitations: The low response-rate of 39%. The selective inclusion of data ≥6 months post-loss prevents a comparison of acute and prolonged grief reactions. Using self-reported data, not diagnostic interviews, challenges the validity of our findings. Using a sample of elderly people may limit the generalizability of our results to other age groups. Conclusion: We suggest that PGD, PCBD and ICD-11-PGD may be more discriminative in identifying a specific grief-related psychopathology, while CG may identify a broader set of grief reactions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Pages (from-to)52-59
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

    Research areas

  • Complicated grief, Diagnostic specificity, DSM-5, ICD-11-PGD, Persistent complex bereavement disorder, Prolonged grief disorder

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