Bereavement clinical trials at University of California Health
1 research study open to eligible people
open to eligible people ages 18-26
Bereaved adolescents and emerging adults are at risk for developing psychological disorders and complicated grief. Clinical grief interventions and conventional wisdom reflect an implicit assumption that sharing and expressing one's feelings surrounding a loss (i.e., emotional disclosure) facilitates psychological adjustment. However, studies of emotional disclosure have yielded null results in bereaved samples. Individuals who have encountered stressful life events, including interpersonal loss, often report a desire to "give back" to others in similar situations. Empirical evidence suggests that providing support to others can be equally, if not more, beneficial than receiving support. The opportunity to support others experiencing stressful circumstances may address common feelings of powerlessness and engender a sense of meaning, enhancing positive affect and reducing distress. Interventions that leverage prosocial behaviors are associated with positive effects, including increases in wellbeing in non-bereaved populations. To date, no research has examined the utility of prosocial interventions for bereaved individuals. The present study tests a novel expressive helping intervention that combines elements of expressive disclosure and prosocial writing. Expressive helping will be compared to traditional expressive disclosure and a neutral writing control condition in a sample of bereaved young adults. Participants (N=156) will be randomized to one of three conditions-expressive disclosure, expressive helping, or a neutral writing control-and complete three weekly 20-minute writing sessions. Measures of psychological distress, well-being, and hypothesized mediators will be administered before, immediately following (within 48 hours of the final writing session), one month, and two months after the writing sessions. It is hypothesized that the participants in the expressive helping condition will evidence greater increases in well-being and decreases in grief-related distress at the one and two-month follow-ups, as compared to the other two groups.