Exploring parental grief: combining quantitative and qualitative measures

Arch Psychiatr Nurs. 2005 Dec;19(6):245-55. doi: 10.1016/j.apnu.2005.07.008.


Purpose: This study explores parental grief on the death of a child of any age.

Study design: The sampling frame for the study consisted of 74 respondents reporting that they experienced the death of a living child. With the exception of standard demographic measures, the quantitative and qualitative items in the instrument were designed specifically for this project. The content validity of the instrument was assessed by a panel of experts on grief. Key quantitative items related to child loss and grief were formatted with between three- and five-point ordinal answer categories. Two types of qualitative items were developed by the authors. The reliability of the instrument designed for this study was not determined.

Results: This survey of parents who experienced the death of a child during their lifetime explores and extends current understanding of the complex emotional response of grief. The study offers empirical support for the notion of grief as ongoing in the life of a parent whose child had died. The findings have significant implications for further clinical research supporting studies to explore commonalities in the experience of grieving families regardless of the cause of and time since the death of their child. In addition, the findings may serve to inform the development and provision of services for bereaved parents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Death*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New York
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Research Design
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors