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2014 Grants - Supiano
Complicated Grief Group Therapy for Bereaved Dementia Caregivers
Katherine Supiano, Ph.D.
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, Utah
2014 New Investigator Research Grant
Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease is challenging and can have a significant impact on one’s physical health and mental health. Up to 20% of caregivers eventually experience a kind of bereavement that is known as “complicated grief,” when prolonged and debilitating feelings of loss can significantly impair normal life function. Caregivers with complicated grief may represent a subset of persons for whom traditional grief support groups are therapeutically insufficient, resulting in a unique population with unmet bereavement needs. Prior research has supported the need for targeted interventions to address complicated grief in various disorders, but limited research has been conducted on therapies to address it in dementia caregivers.
Katherine Supiano, Ph.D., and colleagues proposed to evaluate the efficacy of complicated grief group therapy (CGGT) for bereaved dementia caregivers with complicated grief. Dr. Supiano and colleagues developed CGGT as an adaptation of individualized grief therapy that incorporates the advantages of a group setting which reduces isolation and provides individuals the opportunity to give, as well as receive, support. In previous studies, CGGT was found to be clinically effective in older adults with complicated grief, but the effects in bereaved dementia caregivers have not yet been explored. For the current study, bereaved dementia caregivers with complicated grief will receive the CGGT intervention and treatment effectiveness will be measured as a change in scores on the Inventory of Complicated Grief and the Brief Grief Questionnaire. The researchers will also explore the impact of the CGGT intervention on depression, anxiety, family relationships, and utilization of social supports.
This study addresses the critical need for a targeted intervention for dementia caregivers whose grief is unrelenting. If effective, CGGT could be translated into existing care models and could also lead to development of strategies aimed at providing prevention care for at-risk caregivers.