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PATTERNS OF CHANGE IN MENTAL HEALTH STATUS DURING THE FIRST TWO YEARS OF SPOUSAL BEREAVEMENT

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Patterns of change in mental health were identified for 118 recently widowed participants using the Integra Outpatient Tracking Assessment, Mental Health Index. Change was measured 4 times over the first 2 years of bereavement using a cohort sequential design. It was hypothesized that application of the psychotherapy phase model would have some use in understanding the various ways in which people grieve.The overall pattern of change in mental health was similar to that of the psychotherapy dosage and psychotherapy phase models and indicated a dramatic change in overall mental health, well-being, and symptoms during the beginning phases of bereavement followed by a plateau. At 24 months after the death, participants had not attained the same level of mental health as the general population. Within limitations of the design and sample, 2 conclusions were reached: (a) the overall pattern of change in bereavement was similar to that of distressed patients receiving outpatient mental health services, and (b) the patterns of change for individuals vary, making it important to consider clinical characteristics that might account for individual differences.These findings help establish an empirical model of grief that has use for clinical interventions.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2002

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