Boelen, P. A., Bout, J. van den, & Hout, M. A. van den (2003). The role of cognitive variables in psychological functioning after the death of a first degree relative . Behaviour Research and Therapy, 41, 1123-1136.
The present study sought to explore the relationship between negative cognitions and emotional problems after bereavement, with a group of 329 adults who had suffered the loss of a first degree relative. The following cognitions were assessed: global negative beliefs, cognitions about self-blame, negative cognitions about other people's responses after the loss, and negative cognitions about one's own grief reactions. Results showed that each of these cognitive variables was significantly related to the severity of symptoms of traumatic grief, depression and anxiety, even when background and loss-related variables that were initially found to influence symptom severity, were statistically controlled. When the shared variance between the cognitive variables was controlled, it was found that global negative beliefs about life, the world, and the future, and threatening interpretations of grief reactions each explained a unique proportion of variance in traumatic grief symptom severity. Global negative beliefs about life, the self and the future, and threatening interpretations of grief explained most variance in depression, while negative beliefs about the self and threatening interpretations of grief explained most variance in anxiety. Overall, the findings are in support of cognitive theories of grief, and suggest that effective treatment of problematic grief will need to address negative cognitions.