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The authors used stratified random sampling to assess the prevalence and severity of bereavement in college undergraduates, providing an advance over findings that emerge from convenience sampling methods or from anecdotal observations. Prior research using convenience sampling indicated that 22% to 30% of college students are within 12 months of having experienced the death of a family member or friend. Using an ethnically diverse sample from a private,Midwestern university, 118 randomly selected students answered demographic and life experience questions and indicated whether a family member or friend had died within the last 24 months. Those who reported experiencing such a loss also completed the PG-13, a questionnaire used to assess prolonged grief disorder. Results indicated that 30% of the sample was within 12 months of experiencing a loss and 39% was within 24 months of experiencing a loss. Two of the students bereaved at 12 months (1.7% of the sample) were classified as having prolonged grief disorder. A limiting factor in this study is the homogeneity of the sample in terms of geographic location and religious preference. The authors concluded that a significant portion of college students are bereaved at any given time, confirmed previous estimates of the prevalence rate, and noted university assistance may be needed to prevent academic decline.


Article in: Death Studies



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