Prolonged, complicated grief (PCG) is associated with increased risk of suicide, diminished physical and psychological health, and decreased physical, psychological, and role functioning among older adults. Grief interventions are primarily delivered by hospice organizations throughout the US. These programs are beneficial in the setting of normal grief; however, their usefulness for treatment of prolonged or complicated grief is limited and few treatment options exist for PCG outside of the 12 months of grief services that all Medicare-funded hospice organizations are required to provide. This uncontrolled, prospective study will examine accelerated resolution therapy (ART), a brief form of psychotherapy, as a treatment for PCG. Primary caregivers (age >60 years) of an immediate family member who died after enrollment in hospice, who indicate significant symptoms of PCG and psychological trauma, will receive 4-6 weekly sessions of ART. Assessment of grief, psychological trauma, sleep, anxiety, and depression will occur pre-treatment, at week 4, and at 1- month follow-up. As a secondary aim, we will examine changes in stress biomarkers salivary alpha-amylase and salivary interleukin 6, before and after ART. The data obtained will provide invaluable insight into potential dose of ART intervention, as well as anticipated outcomes.
Prolonged, complicated grief is a significant cause of depression, anxiety, and poor physical, psychological, and social functioning among older adults. This study will evaluate accelerated resolution therapy, an evidence-based treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, for treating prolonged, complicated grief. The results of this study are important because there are not many resources or treatments available for prolonged, complicated grief and the results of our study will inform future treatments.