The relative importance of avoidance and restoration-oriented stressors for grief and depression in bereaved parents



Harper M, O'Connor RC & O'Carroll R (2015) The relative importance of avoidance and restoration-oriented stressors for grief and depression in bereaved parents. Psychology, Health and Medicine, 20 (8), pp. 906-915.

Previous research has identified a number of individual risk factors for parental bereavement including the sex of the parent, the sex of the child, avoidance-focussed coping style and time since death. These factors emerged from research where variables were tested univariately and their relative importance is currently unknown. The current research, therefore, aims to investigate which risk factors are important, multivariately, for the outcomes of grief and depression in parents following the death of their child. Psychosocial measures were completed by 106 bereaved parents four years post-loss, recruited from death records in Scotland. The cause of the child's death included long-term illness and stillbirths as well as sudden and violent deaths. In multivariate regression analyses, depression was predicted by higher avoidance- focussed coping and higher number of restoration-oriented stressors such as relationship difficulties, problems at work and financial issues. Grief was predicted by higher avoidance, restoration stressors and level of continuing bonds. The present study adds to the knowledge about the phenomenon of parental bereavement with participants recruited directly from death records rather than through support, clinical or obituary sources. Factors previously found to be associated with outcomes when tested univariately such as sudden, violent death or sex of the parent were not significant when tested multivariately. This study highlights that different vulnerability factors exist for grief and depression in bereaved parents.

grief; bereavement; parent; death of a child; depression; avoidance

Psychology, Health and Medicine: Volume 20, Issue 8

Publication date31/12/2015
Publication date online11/12/2014
Date accepted by journal18/11/2014
PublisherTaylor and Francis

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Professor Ronan O'Carroll
Professor Ronan O'Carroll

Professor, Psychology

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