User acceptability of the diagnosis of prolonged grief disorder: How do professionals think about inclusion in ICD-11?

J Affect Disord. 2018 Mar 15;229:306-313. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.12.095. Epub 2018 Jan 3.


Background: For the next edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) it is proposed to include prolonged grief disorder as a new diagnosis. The diagnosis describes persistent intensive and disabling grief reactions to bereavement (WHO, 2016b). The aim of the present survey was to determine the extent to which the diagnosis is accepted by practitioners in the healthcare and psychosocial field.

Methods: A total of 2088 German-speaking professionals in the fields of psychotherapy, psychology, counselling, medicine and palliative care completed the online survey.

Results: 42.4% of the participants felt that the advantages of including the diagnosis outweigh the disadvantages, 32.9% came to the conclusion that there are more disadvantages. The remaining 24.7% stated that advantages and disadvantages are balanced. The proposed classification as separate diagnosis was supported by 24.8%, while 60.0% preferred alternatives (e.g. as subtype of adjustment disorder). Furthermore, a time criterion of at least 12 months was voted for considerably more frequently (49.2%) than the proposed 6 months (11.3%). Objections were predominantly expressed with regard to pathologization of normal grief and to the difficulty of adequate crosscultural application of the diagnosis.

Limitations: Results are limited to predominantly German health-care professionals. The items did not undergo psychometric analyses.

Conclusions: The disagreement about the diagnosis found in specialist literature is also reflected in the responses by the participants. The present results provide stimulation for future questions and validation studies carried out as part of the ICD revision.

Keywords: Bereavement; Clinical utility; ICD-11; Prolonged grief disorder; User acceptability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Female
  • Grief*
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases*
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires