Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Richard N. Roberts


Richard N. Roberts


Mary Doty


Jay Schvanaveldt


Gretchen Gimpel


David Bush


Carla Reyes


Carolyn Barcus


This study involves a meta-analysis of the extant English language literature reporting studies of the effectiveness of bereavement therapeutic interventions. Twenty-six studies (20 adult studies; 6 child studies) were located and served as the database for the current meta-analytic study. Questions asked of the studies in this meta-analysis included:

  1. Describe background variables of subjects seeking bereavement group interventions.
  2. Describe leader variables of persons leading bereavement group interventions.
  3. Describe intervention variables in bereavement group interventions.

The major finding of the meta-analysis was that children and adult experimental subjects benefitted from the grief interventions in comparison to their control counterparts. The ratio of female to male subjects was 4:1. The majority of the subjects were Caucasians. The most common reported cause of death was due to disease. The most common relationship loss was the death of a spouse. Protestants and Catholics were the most common reported religious groups.

The leadership of most studies consisted of either one or two leaders. Most leaders were females, and only Caucasian leaders were reported. The majority of leaders were students, and most leaders reported having a master's degree as their terminal degree. Leaders with and without previous bereavement group experience occurred at about the same rates.

A pretest-posttest control group design was the most common study design, but only five studies used random assignment. The mean number of treatment weeks was 7.8, and the mean number of treatment hours was 14.8.

Group therapy was used in 21 studies . One examined study utilized self-help treatment; two studies used education as the intervention format. Six studies were coded as "other'' types of interventions. The most common evaluation tool was a depression measure. Effect size information suggested that bereaved subjects participating in group interventions improved in comparison to control subjects.

This study identified a number of problems with past bereavement research that included the following issues: small groups, poor choices of evaluation tools, use of a pre/posttest design, lack of random assignment when using control groups, lack of follow-up data, eclectic theoretical orientations used in treatment, lack of information reported in studies, and heterogeneous groups making it difficult to draw conclusions about specific groups.



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