Bereavement in Children, Adolescents and Young Adults. - A Study of Health and Psychosocial Well-being in Adults Who Have Experienced Early Parental Death
Early parental death experienced by 4% of the children in Western countries, is considered
to be the most stressful and potentially harmful childhood life event and the health
consequences may depend on the nature of the bereavement (e.g. relationship with bereaved),
as well as by interpersonal (e.g. social support), intrapersonal (e.g. age and genetics),
appraisal and coping factors. Studies have shown that children and adolescents have a
greater risk of getting a psychiatric diagnose as well as psychological and social problems.
Despite of the obvious consequences of losing a parent, there is a lack of systematic
studies on the consequences later in life as well as studies that evaluate the counseling
possibilities the children and adolescents are offered.
The study will investigate:
1. Long-term health effects of experiencing parental death as a child adolescent or young
adult. Focus will be on psychiatric outcomes including depression, severe
cardiovascular disease, suicide, suicide attempts, psychological well-being and health
2. Long term effects of experiencing parental death as a child, adolescent or young adult
on socioeconomic outcomes as education, employment, marital status/ cohabitation status
and number of children/age when having children.
3. The long-term psychosocial and behavioral impact of psychological intervention
programmes to children, adolescents and young adults who have experienced the death of
a parent. Focus will be on: Depressive symptoms, quality of life, posttraumatic stress
disorder, life style, relationship functioning, grief and spirituality.
A nationwide register based cohort of people born in Denmark will be established. Long-term
health effects and socioeconomic outcomes of experiencing parental death will be based on
nationwide clinical and administrative registries. Exposure is defined as experiencing the
death of a parent before age 30. The long-term psychosocial and behavioral impact of
psychological intervention programmes will be based on a combination of questionnaire data
and data from registries.
The part of the study using data from registries will be based on the nationwide cohort. The
questionnaire based part of the study will include 3 groups selected from the nationwide
1. Persons who have lost a parent and participated in intervention programmes (identified
through counseling centers),
2. Persons who have lost a parent, and not participated in intervention programmes
(randomly selected matched on age and gender) and
3. Persons who have not lost a parent (randomly selected matched on age and gender).
An invitation letter will be send to the 3 groups (5500 persons) by mail, and they will be
asked to complete one questionnaire online.
Observational Model: Cohort, Time Perspective: Prospective
Hospitalization for affective disorder
Danish Psychiatric Central Register
Paticipants will be followed from age 15 until date of first hospitalization for an affective disorder, death, first emigration or end of follow up, an expected average of 12 years
Christoffer Johansen, MD, PhD, DSc
Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society
Denmark: Danish Dataprotection Agency