The bereaved child

M. M. Van Eerdewegh, M. D. Bieri, R. H. Pattilla, P. J. Clayton

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101 Scopus citations


This is a one-year prospective study on one hundred and five 2 to 17 year old children of a consecutive sample of young widows and widowers in the community and of the children of controls. The children's reactions to the parental death were recorded at one month and thirteen months after the event in a structured interview with the surviving parent. The interview included items of general adaption to the death, school performance, behaviour problems, symptoms relevant to psychopathological manifestations (depression, anxiety, etc) and general health. The results indicate a significant increase of dysphoria which disappears over time (P <0.0001), the persistance of a minor form of depression (P <0.03), an increase in bedwetting (P <0.03), and a significant degree of impairment in school performance (P <0.0001). There were no significant increases in behaviour problems and severe forms of depression. The children's general health was not affected. Those results are compared to currently available data on childhood bereavement and discussed in the light of conflicting reports relating parental loss to adult psychopathology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-29
Number of pages7
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
VolumeVol. 140
StatePublished - 1982


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