What's is measured in bereavement treatment for children and adolescents? A systematic literature review

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Objective: Childhood bereavement from parental death can be a significant stressor. Treatment studies vary largely on how the effect of the grief treatment is measured. This sytematic review evaluates whether controlled bereavement intervention studies focus on symptomatalogy or grief as outcome measure and also summarizes the effect of grief treatment. Method: For inclusion in the review, studies must report on children or adolesecents who experienced the death of a parent or sibling, must have a control group and must report results of a grief treatment. Results: Eight studies met the inclusion criteria and reported in total on 30 different outcome measures. Only two studies measured grief as a separate outcome and both showed promising results for the treatment of grief with bereaved children. Conclusions: Systematic use of validated measures of prolonged grief in treatment studies is needed. Implications of the findings and recommendations for future studies are discussed in the perspective of complicated grief becoming part of the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. Grief interventions for parentally bereaved youth is promising but lack consistent use of reliable grief measures for solid documentation of the effect. The specific role of parenting and culture for the outcome of the intervention should be investigated in more detail.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIllness, Crisis, and Loss
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)363-387
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • bereavement treatment
  • children
  • grief measures


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