Screening to predict complicated grief in spouses of cancer patients

Karlynn M. BrintzenhofeSzoc, Elizabeth D. Smith, James R. Zabora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Grief is the expected reaction to the death of a family member or close friend and is accompanied by substantial distress for almost everyone who experiences it. For some the grief response becomes complicated. This pilot study sought to identify individuals at high risk for complicated grief, by 1) examining the relationships that exist between family functioning before the death, psychological distress, and the grief reaction of a family after the death, and 2) presenting the use of screening with standardized measures to identify those at risk. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This pilot study examined the relationships between family functioning, psychological distress, and grief reaction. A cross-sectional design was used and the instrument included the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale (FACES III), the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), and the Texas Revised Inventory of Grief (TRIG). Significant relationships were identified between the level of family functioning, psychological distress and grief reaction. Depression, anxiety, and general distress were significantly correlated with the two subscales of the TRIG. CONCLUSIONS: The findings clearly illustrate the merit of psychosocial screening of spouses and suggest the possible benefits of screening before the patient's death, using FACES III and the BSI to identify which spouses are at risk for complicated grief reactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-239
Number of pages7
JournalCancer practice
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Complicated grief
  • Family functioning
  • Psychological distress
  • Psychosocial impact

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Oncology


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