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Bereavement an independent risk factor for psychiatric symptoms in young people

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To what extent does bereavement influence development of psychiatric symptoms in young people?


A subsample of 1420 young people aged 9–21 years from the Great Smoky Mountains Study, a prospective cohort study of psychiatric disorders in children aged 9, 11 and 13 in 1993. 172 participants had lost a parental figure, 815 had lost a non-parent relative (aunt, uncle, grandparent) and were classified as ‘other bereaved’, 235 were selected as a non-bereaved control group and 198 were excluded because of loss of a sibling, close friend and extended family member or because of missing data. Data were collected in repeat waves, and the wave in which the death occurred and that before (nearly 2 years previous) and after (1.5 years later) were used for analysis in this study.


11 counties of western North Carolina.

Prognostic factors

Pre-bereavement psychiatric symptoms assessed using the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment (CAPA); degree of relation to the deceased; global functioning assessed on the Children's Global Assessment Scale; sociodemographic; family composition; life stress and family functioning in the wave before the …

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  • Source of funding National Institute of Mental Health.


  • Competing interests None.