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

Maja O'Connor; Mathias Kamp Lasgaard; Lene Larsen; Maja Johannsen; Marie Lundorff; Ingeborg Farver-Vestergaard; Paul A. Boelen


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. 


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 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%.


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.

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År 2019
Udgiver Journal of Affective Disorders