Boelen, P. A. (2015). Optimism in Prolonged Grief and Depression Following Loss: A Three-Wave Longitudinal Study. Psychiatry Research, 227, 2-3, 313-317. DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2015.03.009.


There is considerable evidence that optimism, the predisposition to have generalized favorable expectancies for the future, is associated with numerous desirable outcomes. Few studies have examined the association of optimism with emotional distress following the death of a loved one. Doing so is important, because optimism may be an important target for interventions for post-loss psychopathology. In the current study, we examined the degree to which optimism, assessed in the first year post-loss (Time 1, T1), was associated with symptom levels of prolonged grief and depression six months (Time 2, T2) and fifteen months (Time 3, T3) later, controlling for baseline symptoms and also taking into account positive automatic cognitions at T1. Findings showed that higher optimism at T1 was associated with lower concurrent prolonged grief and depression severity. Higher optimism at T1 was also inversely related with depression symptom severity at T2 and T3, but not prolonged grief severity at T2 and T3. Implications of these findings are discussed.