Investigating associations between pain and complicated grief symptoms in bereaved Japanese older adults

Angela Ghesquiere, Ariunsanaa Bagaajav, Masaya Ito, Yukihiro Sakaguchi, Mitsunori Miyashita

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: About 10% of those who lose a loved one in hospice or palliative care settings will experience a mental health condition characterized by severe, prolonged grief responses. Criteria for this condition have evolved; we refer to this condition as Complicated Grief (CG) because it is one of the more common names. While there are some indications of associations between CG and poor physical health, explorations of the association between CG and pain is limited. The main objective of this study was to explore whether pain levels are higher in those with CG than those without, using a large population-based samples of Japanese older adults. Method: The study analyzed data from the Japan HOspice and Palliative care Evaluation (J-HOPE) study, a cross sectional study conducted in 2008 that examined the experiences and outcomes among adults throughout Japan who had lost a loved one within a palliative department or hospice setting, via self-report survey. We examined a subsample sample of 324 individuals aged 50 and above who completed a measure of CG. Results: Family members with high pain group had statistically significantly higher CG symptoms than those with low pain group (M = 66.95 vs. M = 52.05), an association which remained when controlling for demographic and loss-related factors. Conclusion: We found preliminary evidence of an association between CG symptoms and pain, which should be explored in additional samples. Should this finding be replicated, the mechanism of this association could be explored and treatment could potentially address both CG and pain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1472-1478
Number of pages7
JournalAging and Mental Health
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept 1


  • Japan
  • Pain
  • bereavement
  • complicated grief
  • palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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