Author(s): Linda Dowdney, Richard Wilson, B Maughan, M Allerton, P Schofield, D Skuse
Abstract Share this page
To identify whether psychiatric
disturbance in parentally bereaved children and
surviving parents is related to service provision.
Prospective case≠control study.
Two adjacent outer London health
45 bereaved families with children aged
Main outcome measures
in parentally bereaved children and surviving parents,
and statistical associations between sample
characteristics and service provision.
Parentally bereaved children and surviving
parents showed higher than expected levels of
psychiatric difficulties. Boys were more affected than
girls, and bereaved mothers had more mental health
difficulties than bereaved fathers. Levels of psychiatric
disturbance in children were higher when parents
showed probable psychiatric disorder. Service
provision related to the age of the children and the
manner of parental death. Children under 5 years of
age were less likely to be offered services than older
children even though their parents desired it.
Children were significantly more likely to be offered
services when the parent had committed suicide or
when the death was expected. Children least likely to
receive service support were those who were not in
touch with services before parental death.
Service provision was not significantly
related to parental wishes or to level of psychiatric
disturbance in parents or children. There is a role for
general practitioners and primary care workers in
identifying psychologically distressed surviving
parents whose children may be psychiatrically
disturbed, and referring them to appropriate services
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This article was published in british medical journal
and referenced in Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior