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|Coping and Outcomes Following Parental Bereavement
|O'Carroll, Ronan E.
O'Connor, Rory C.
|University of Stirling
|Background This thesis addresses the topic of parental bereavement, using a multi-method approach. It aims to add to knowledge about the phenomenon of parental bereavement, outcomes for bereaved parents following the loss of their child, and factors associated with these outcomes. Method An initial literature study and qualitative investigation were carried out. Findings from these informed the choice of quantitative variables to be tested in a group of parents in early and mid-bereavement. Census records were used to provide information on long term health and social outcomes. Results The literature related to the parent’s experience following the death of their child is limited. The qualitative study indicated a variety of factors for testing, related to the circumstances of the loss, continuing bonds with the deceased child, restoration-oriented stressors, for example, employment and relationship problems, and ruminative behaviours. In early bereavement, lower grief levels were found in people who had displayed cognitive restructuring behaviours. Grief and depression were prevalent, and were found to exist independently. Rumination was associated with grief and depression in mid-bereavement. Grief was predicted by depression and self-blame and depression was, in turn, predicted by rumination and education level. Rates of mothers returning to work following the loss of a child in the first year of life were lower than those whose child lived. Mortality rates were up to four times higher in bereaved parents than non-bereaved comparisons, up to 35 years post-loss. Conclusions The loss of a child has ongoing social, emotional and health consequences for parents. Social factors are a particularly important issue, and therapeutic interventions may benefit from reducing negative aspects of coping such as rumination rather than promoting specific coping strategies. Support for bereaved parents should come from a number of sources, in order to address their complex and potentially long-term needs.
|Thesis or Dissertation
|Final version of thesis.pdf
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