Prevalence of complicated grief in a representative population-based sample

J Affect Disord. 2011 Jun;131(1-3):339-43. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2010.11.032. Epub 2011 Jan 8.


Background: Complicated grief (CG) has been proposed as a distinct diagnostic category in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). However, few epidemiological studies to date have measured CG in the general population.

Methods: Prevalence of CG, sociodemographic characteristics, and grief-related factors were examined in a representative population-based survey (N = 2520) through face-to-face contact. The sample included all bereaved subpopulations and all age groups from 14 to 95 years.

Results: The conditional prevalence of developing CG after major bereavement was 6.7%; the prevalence of CG in the general sample was 3.7%. Predictors of higher risk for developing CG were female gender, lower income (< €1250/month), older age (> 61 years), having lost a child or a spouse, or cancer as the cause of death.

Limitations: The sample of bereaved people was small, and some categories contained very few cases. Psychiatric comorbidities were not assessed in this study.

Conclusions: The results indicate that CG is prevalent in the population, and risk factors were identified.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bereavement
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult