INTRODUCTION: Current grief research is dominated by cross-sectional studies assessing prolonged grief disorder (PGD) symptoms retrospectively. Examining grief in daily life, using Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM), may advance the field. Because of the lack of ESM-research on PGD, we evaluated the acceptability and feasibility of assessing PGD symptoms in daily life of bereaved people.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: ESM-items assessing PGD symptoms were developed using cognitive interviewing with five ESM/grief experts. Eighty bereaved adults completed these ESM-items five times a day for two weeks. Before and after this ESM-phase, interviews were administered assessing PGD retrospectively (using the Traumatic Grief Inventory-Clinical Administered). t-tests were performed comparing symptom severity of aggregated moment-to-moment recall (using ESM-items) with retrospective recall (based on interviews) of PGD symptoms. Acceptability of participating in ESM-research (assessed with the Reactions to Research Participation Questionnaire) was examined using descriptive statistics. Feasibility was evaluated by reporting compliance and retention rates.
RESULTS: Minor changes were made to the ESM-items based on expert interviews. Average levels of aggregated moment-to-moment recall of the symptoms "yearning" (d = -1.04), "preoccupation with the deceased" (d = -0.91), "marked sense of disbelief" (d = -0.43), and "intense loneliness" (d = -0.28) were lower compared with retrospective recalling these symptoms. On average, bereaved people were neutral about personal benefits gained through participation in this EMS-study. They indicated that participation did not raise emotional reactions. Compliance and retention rates were 60% and 65%, respectively.
DISCUSSION: Our findings indicate that whereas compliance and retention is challenging, using ESM to study PGD symptoms in daily life might be useful. Nevertheless, more research is needed.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This publication is part of the project ‘Toward personalized bereavement care: Examining individual differences in response to grief treatment’ [ID: Vl.Veni.211G.065] of the research programme [NWO Talent Programme 2021 - Veni] which is financed by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) and awarded to Lonneke I.M. Lenferink.