Although often undiagnosed and untreated, prolonged grief and its conversion to complicated grief (CG) can lead to functional impairment. Given the impact of CG on mortality and quality of life in elderly individuals, this study aimed to determine the prevalence of CG and its related factors among the elderly in the city of Sabzevar in Iran.
The subjects of this cross-sectional study were elderly individuals aged 60 years and older who lived Sabzevar in 2019. Participants were randomly selected in two stages. First, the grief experience of 823 elderly individuals was investigated. Second, the 247 individuals who met the inclusion criteria and had experienced grief were assessed for CG. Data were collected with a demographic information questionnaire, the Brief Grief Questionnaire, and the Geriatric Depression Scale.
The prevalence of CG among the participants who had experienced grief was 18.6%. Significant differences in CG prevalence were observed among participants according to age, gender, marital status, occupation, and relationship to the deceased person (P < 0.05). The prevalence of CG was also significantly associated with the deceased person's age, gender, and cause of death; the participant being the deceased's primary caregiver and the participant being with the deceased at the time of death(P < 0.05). Furthermore, CG was significantly higher in people with mild or severe depression than in non-depressed participants (P = 0.01). The odds of CG and sub-threshold CG incidence were 2.94 times higher in women than in men and 3.64 times higher in participants with severe depression than in non-depressed participants.
Complicated grief is relatively prevalent among the elderly, and it is associated with age, gender, marital status, depression status, and some variables related to the deat time of the deceased. Given the negative effects of CG on individuals and the community, appropriate planning is needed to reduce its incidence in elderly individuals who have experienced grief.
© 2020 Japanese Psychogeriatric Society.