Boelen, P. A., Bout, J. van den, & Hout, M. A. van den (2010). A prospective examination of catastrophic misinterpretations and experiential avoidance in emotional distress following loss. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 198, 252-257.


This prospective study examined the role of experiential avoidance and catastrophic misinterpretations of grief-reactions in emotional distress following the death of a loved one. Eighty two bereaved individuals completed measures of experiential avoidance, catastrophic misinterpretations, and symptom of Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) and depression within the first half year of bereavement, and again completed measures assessing PGD and depression severity one year later. Findings showed that experiential avoidance was significantly correlated with endorsement of catastrophic misinterpretations of grief-reactions. In addition, both constructs were correlated with concurrent and prospective symptom-levels of PGD and depression. However, the associations between experiential avoidance and symptom-levels were no longer significant, when controlling for catastrophic misinterpretations of grief-reactions. Moreover, catastrophic misinterpretations but not experiential avoidance predicted PGD severity at follow-up, beyond baseline levels of PGD. Both constructs did not predict later depression beyond baseline depression. Theoretical and clinical implications of these findings are discussed.