Prolonged grief disorder symptomology in three African countries: a network analysis and comparison

Martin Robinson*, Cherie Armour, Yafit Levin

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background
Bereavement is a globally prevalent life stressor, but in some instances may be followed by a persistent condition of grief and distress; codified within the ICD-11 as Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD). Network Analysis provides a valuable framework for understanding psychological disorders at a nuanced symptom-based level.
Aim This study novelly explores the network structure of ICD-11 PGD symptomology in a non-Western sample and assess the replication of this across three African country sub-samples in these data.

Methodology
Network models were estimated using the Inventory of Complicated Grief-Revised in a sample of trauma-exposed individuals who experienced bereavement throughout life (N = 1,554) from three African countries (Ghana, n = 290; Kenya, n = 619; Nigeria, n = 645). These networks were statistically evaluated using the Network Comparison Test.

Results
It was found that “Feelings of Loss” and “Difficulty moving on” were most central symptoms in the combined sample network. These findings were largely consistent for the Ghana and Nigeria sub-samples, however network structure differences were noted in the Kenya sub-sample.

Conclusion
The identified PGD network highlights particular indicators and associations across three African samples. Implications for assessment and treatment of PGD in these cultural contexts warrant consideration.


Impact Statement
Bereavement and loss, a nearly ubiquitous stressor, may lead to Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) in a minority of individuals, marked by an extended period of yearning, preoccupation, and emotional pain. This study identified "Feelings of Loss" and "Difficulty moving on" as critical factors influencing PGD, suggesting these as potentially valuable targets for intervention to alleviate disordered grief. Indeed, by addressing these factors, interventions may reduce distress linked to PGD through the prevention of the cascading effects within the symptom network.

This study identified consistency in symptom networks across sub-samples drawn from three African nations, emphasizing the global relevance of PGD. However, some divergence was observed when comparing the Kenyan sample to those from Nigeria and Ghana. This highlights the importance of recognising cultural nuances in the assessment of PGD, and the formulation of treatment approaches. The evidence supports the view that the criteria for PGD outlined in ICD-11 are relevant on a global scale, emphasizing the need for psychological interventions that are sensitive to cultural considerations. Addressing "Feelings of Loss" and "Difficulty moving on" within psychological intervention and bereavement support may however be considered internationally relevant to enhance the effectiveness of psychological support for those grappling with prolonged grief.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57
JournalCambridge Prisms: Global Mental Health
Volume11
Early online date29 Apr 2024
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online date - 29 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2024.

Keywords

  • Prolonged Grief Disorder
  • Network Analysis
  • Global Mental Health

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