Factors associated with possible complicated grief and major depressive disorders

Maho Aoyama, Yukihiro Sakaguchi, Tatsuya Morita, Asao Ogawa, Daisuke Fujisawa, Yoshiyuki Kizawa, Satoru Tsuneto, Yasuo Shima, Mitsunori Miyashita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Complicated grief (CG) is considered a distinctive symptom from other bereavement-related mental impairments such as major depressive disorder (MDD). CG and MDD may appear independently or co-morbidly; however, the factors associated with each situation are unclear. Methods: We conducted a nationwide cross-sectional questionnaire survey involving bereaved family members of cancer patients in 175 institutions. The following items were included in the questionnaires to assess the prevalence of CG and MDD, and the following associated factors: demographic characteristics; bereaved family depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) and grief status (Brief Grief Questionnaire); structure and process of care (Care Evaluation Scale); overall care satisfaction; and achievement of a good death (Good Death Inventory). Results: A total of 9123 questionnaires were returned. The prevalence of CG and MDD was 14% and 17%, respectively. Additionally, 58% of the possible CG participants showed co-morbid symptoms. Common factors that showed significant association with either independent or co-morbid symptoms of CG and MDD were pre-existing mental impairment; belief in the survival of the soul after physical death; unpreparedness for the death; poor physical or psychological health status; and the belief that the deceased felt themselves as a burden to others (all P < 0.05). The duration of bereavement did not remain significant after multivariate analysis. Conclusions: While there were many common factors associated with both CG and MDD independently, few participants exhibited associations to both CG and MDD. Therefore, CG and MDD can be considered as distinctive symptoms, which frequently appear co-morbidly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-921
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar


  • bereavement
  • cancer
  • caregiver
  • depression
  • grief
  • palliative care


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