Prolonged Grief Disorder, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder are distinguishable syndromes

J Affect Disord. 2010 Sep;125(1-3):374-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.01.076. Epub 2010 Mar 2.


Background: This study examined the distinctiveness of symptoms of Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We compared the fit of a one-factor model with the fit of four hierarchical models in which symptoms formed three distinct correlated higher-order dimensions, and PTSD-items were modeled in different ways.

Methods: Self-reported data were available from two samples; 572 mourners recruited via the internet and 408 mourners recruited via healthcare workers.

Results: In Sample 1, the unitary model did not fit the data. The four hierarchical models all fit better. The model in which PTSD-items constituted four lower-order factors of reexperiencing, avoidance, dysphoria, and hyperarousal fit the data best. The fit was further improved, when one weak PGD-item and one weak PTSD-item were removed, and error-terms of similar items were allowed to correlate. Findings from Sample 1 were replicated in Sample 2.

Limitations: This study relied on self-reported data. Not all PGD-criteria and depression-criteria were assessed.

Conclusions: This is the first confirmatory factor analysis study showing that symptoms of PGD, depression, and PTSD represent distinguishable syndromes. PGD-symptoms should be addressed in the assessment and treatment of bereaved people seeking treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adjustment Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Adjustment Disorders / psychology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bereavement
  • Death, Sudden
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Factors
  • Spouses / psychology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology