• Helena Palsgaard Nielsen
  • Anne Amalie Thomsen
4. term, Psychology, Master (Master Programme)
Background: The majority of people will experience the loss of a loved one during their lives, making grief an existential condition of life. Loss under sudden and violent circumstances can be particularly traumatizing and can lead to an increased risk of developing symptoms of mental disorders among bereaved people.

Aim: The aim of this systematic review was to investigate which symptoms of mental disorders, measured with a standardized instrument, are seen in bereaved family members of victims of a sudden and violent death as a result of a violent act in Western countries.

Method: Relevant publications published after 1993 were identified on PubMed and PsycNet on 17 February 2023 in accordance with PRISMA 2020 guidelines and PICO study design. Relevant articles were transferred to Rayyan, where duplicates were removed. Articles were then screened for title, abstract and in-text.

Results: The review identified 19 publications (n = 1471 participants). The results indicate that bereaved family members experienced symptoms of pathological grief and PTSD to a high degree. Furthermore, it was found that mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, may characterize the bereaved family members, who are also at increased risk of developing comorbidities.

Conclusion: We conclude that bereaved family members of victims of sudden and violent death due to acts of violence experience symptoms of PTSD and pathological grief to a high degree. Compared to other bereaved groups, the findings indicate that this population should receive special support. Limitations and recommendations for future research are discussed.
Publication date1 Jun 2023
Number of pages62
ID: 532467185