Parental Mental Health After the Accidental Death of a Son During Military Service 23-Year Follow-Up Study

Norwegian Centre for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies, University of Oslo, Kirkeveien 166, Oslo, Norway.
The Journal of nervous and mental disease (Impact Factor: 1.69). 01/2012; 200(1):63-8. DOI: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31823e5796
Source: PubMed


We prospectively studied parental mental health after suddenly losing a son in a military training accident. Parents (N = 32) were interviewed at 1, 2 and 23 years after the death of their son. The General Health Questionnaire and Expanded Texas Inventory of Grief were self-reported at 1, 2, 5, and 23 years; the Inventory of Complicated Grief was self-reported at 23 years. We observed a high prevalence of psychiatric disorders at 1- and 2-year follow-ups (57% and 45%, respectively), particularly major depression (43% and 31%, respectively). Only one mental disorder was diagnosed at the 23-year follow-up. Grief and psychological distress were highest at 1- and 2-year follow-ups. Spouses exhibited a high concordance of psychological distress. Mothers reported more intense grief reactions than did fathers. The loss of a son during military service may have a substantial impact on parental mental health particularly during the first 2 years after death. Spouses' grief can be interrelated and may contribute to their psychological distress.

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    • "Blaming others/being blamed Kristensen et al. (2012) Parents, natural disaster (n = 32) Blaming others for the death was associated with excessive anger and bitterness Brent et al. (2009) Children/young adults lost parents in suicide, accident, or natural death (n = 176) Blaming others for the death increased risk of depression Melham et al. (2007) Children/adolescents lost parents in suicide, accidents, or sudden natural deaths (n = 129) Feeling that others were accountable for the death and/ or feeling that others were blaming him or her for the death was associated with higher PGD scores. "
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    ABSTRACT: This paper reviews the literature on the psychological consequences of sudden and violent losses, including disaster and military losses. It also reviews risk and resilience factors for grief and mental health and describes the effects and possible benefit of psychosocial interventions. The review shows gaps in the literature on grief and bereavement after sudden and violent deaths. Still, some preliminary conclusions can be made. Several studies show that a sudden and violent loss of a loved one can adversely affect mental health and grief in a substantial number of the bereaved. The prevalence of mental disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and prolonged grief disorder (PGD, also termed complicated grief) varies widely, however, from study to study. Also, mental health disorders are more elevated after sudden and violent losses than losses following natural deaths, and the trajectory of recovery seems to be slower. Several factors related to the circumstances of the loss may put the bereaved at heightened risk for mental distress. These factors may be differentially related to different outcomes; some increase the risk for PTSD, others for PGD. Given the special circumstances, bereavement following sudden and violent death may require different interventions than for loss from natural death. Recommendations for future research and clinical implications are discussed.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Psychiatry Interpersonal & Biological Processes
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    • "An alternative method of investigating the relevance of family factors to posttraumatic stress reactions is by examining similarities in reactions within the family. We found only three studies that looked at the similarities of couples' reactions to disasters [14,33,34]. All three studies found general mental health or depression to be more similar within couples than for non-related adults but did not measure specific posttraumatic stress reactions. "
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    ABSTRACT: There is limited research on the relevance of family structures to the development and maintenance of posttraumatic stress following disasters. We longitudinally studied the effects of marital and parental statuses on posttraumatic stress reactions after the 2004 Southeast Asian tsunami and whether persons in the same households had more shared stress reactions than others. The study included a tourist population of 641 Norwegian adult citizens, many of them from families with children. We measured posttraumatic stress symptoms with the Impact of Event Scale-Revised at 6 months and 2 years post-disaster. Analyses included multilevel methods with mixed effects models. Results showed that neither marital nor parental status was significantly related to posttraumatic stress. At both assessments, adults living in the same household reported levels of posttraumatic stress that were more similar to one another than adults who were not living together. Between households, disaster experiences were closely related to the variance in posttraumatic stress symptom levels at both assessments. Within households, however, disaster experiences were less related to the variance in symptom level at 2 years than at 6 months. These results indicate that adult household members may influence one another's posttraumatic stress reactions as well as their interpretations of the disaster experiences over time. Our findings suggest that multilevel methods may provide important information about family processes after disasters.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · BMC Psychiatry
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research suggests that trauma may contribute to psychosis onset. In this study, we examine the effect of parental loss of a child on the onset of psychotic experience using data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, hypothesizing that child loss will precede the onset of psychosis and will be associated with a later age of onset. We likewise tested this association for six other psychiatric conditions to demonstrate specificity for psychosis. Individuals with a psychotic disorder who had lost a child had a significantly later age of onset, particularly in males, even when controlling for demographic variables and co-occurring substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. Psychosis onset frequently occurred within a year of child loss. No associations were found between child loss and onset of other psychiatric conditions, supporting specificity of the effect on psychosis. The presented findings implicate child loss as an etiological factor in the onset of psychosis, providing converging evidence with previous studies demonstrating associations between more widely studied trauma exposures (abuse, neglect, and assault) and psychosis.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2012
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