The British Journal of Psychiatry
Consensus criteria for traumatic grief. A preliminary empirical test.
H G Prigerson, M K Shear, S C Jacobs, C F Reynolds, P K Maciejewski, J R Davidson, R Rosenheck, P A Pilkonis, C B Wortman, J B Williams, T A Widiger, E Frank, D J Kupfer, S Zisook


BACKGROUND Studies suggest that symptoms of traumatic grief constitute a distinct syndrome worthy of diagnosis.

AIMS A consensus conference aimed to develop and test a criteria set for traumatic grief.

METHOD The expert panel proposed consensus criteria for traumatic grief. Receiver operator characteristic (ROC) analyses tested the performance of the proposed criteria on 306 widowed respondents at seven months post loss.

RESULTS ROC analyses indicated that three of four separation distress symptoms (e.g. yearning, searching, loneliness) had to be endorsed as at least 'sometimes true' and four of the final eight traumatic distress symptoms (e.g. numbness, disbelief, distrust, anger, sense of futility about the future) had to be endorsed as at least 'mostly true' to yield a sensitivity of 0.93 and a specificity of 0.93 for a diagnosis of traumatic grief.

CONCLUSIONS Preliminary analyses suggest the consensus criteria for traumatic grief have satisfactory operating characteristics, and point to directions for further refinement of the criteria set.