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Research Letter
March 2016

Posttraumatic Stress and Prolonged Grief After the Sudden Cardiac Death of a Young Relative

Author Affiliations
  • 1Agnes Ginges Centre for Molecular Cardiology, Centenary Institute, Newtown, New South Wales, Australia
  • 2Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Australia
  • 3Department of Cardiology, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, Australia
  • 4School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Australia
  • 5Psychology Research and Clinical Services, Heart Centre for Children, The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (Westmead and Randwick), Sydney, Australia
  • 6Discipline of Paediatrics, School of Women’s and Children’s Health, University of New South Wales Medicine, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(3):402-405. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.7808

The sudden cardiac death (SCD) of a young person is a devastating event often attributed to underlying genetic heart disease.1 In the absence of a prior diagnosis or symptoms, a grieving family must come to terms with the uncertainty about the cause of death and ongoing genetic risk to the family. Approximately 7% of a bereaved population will develop prolonged grief (PG) for which some risk factors include female sex and sudden unexpected death. Although family members may be particularly vulnerable to PG, psychological assessment is rarely undertaken. We sought to assess psychological functioning, including PG and posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms, and to identify factors that correlate with adverse outcomes after the SCD of a young relative.

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