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Clinical Trials Update
November 26, 2014

Grief Therapy More Effective for Bereaved Adults Than Psychotherapy

JAMA. 2014;312(20):2083. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.15872

A randomized trial comparing treatments for older adults with complicated grief (CG) reports better response with therapy designed to treat the stress response of CG than with interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), an effective evidence-based treatment for depression (Shear MK et al. JAMA Psychiatry. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1242 [published online September 24, 2014]).

About 9% of bereaved older women experience CG, a serious and debilitating mental health problem associated with functional impairment and increased suicidality. The 151 trial participants, who were mostly white (86.1%) women (81.5%) with a mean age of 66 years, received 16 weekly sessions of either CG treatment (CGT) or IPT. The CGT model focused on loss and restoration and aimed to resolve grief complications and to facilitate natural mourning. In IPT, participants discussed death and bereavement effects on mood and worked to enhance relationships and activities in the present. Responses to the interventions were defined as improvement of symptoms on validated survey scales.