Treatment gap in bereavement care: (Online) bereavement support needs and use after traumatic loss

Lonneke Lenferink*, Jos de Keijser, Maarten Eisma, Geert Smid, Paul A. Boelen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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People bereaved through road traffic accidents (RTAs) are at risk for severe and disabling grief (i.e., pathological grief). Knowledge about needs and use of bereavement care, including psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and support groups is limited. This study charted (correlates of) the needs and use of bereavement care in RTA bereaved people. Furthermore, while online grief treatment seems effective, it is unknown whether it is perceived as acceptable. Accordingly, we examined the acceptability of online treatment. Dutch RTA bereaved adults (N=273) completed self-report measures about needs and use of bereavement care, acceptability of online grief treatment, and pathological grief. Regression analyses were used to identify correlates of care needs and use and acceptability of online treatment. The majority (63%) had received help from psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and/or support groups. One in five participants had not used bereavement care services, despite reporting elevated pathological grief levels and/or expressing a need for care, pointing to a treatment gap. Use of psychological support before the loss was the strongest predictor of bereavement care needs and use following the loss. A minority (35%) reported being inclined to use online grief treatment if in need of support. More openness towards online services was related to greater acceptability of online treatment. In conclusion, 20% of RTA bereaved people with pathological grief or care needs had not received care. This treatment gap may be reduced by improving accessibility of online treatments. However, as only 35% was open to using online treatments, increasing the acceptability of (online) treatments appears important.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-916
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Psychology and Psychotherapy
Issue number4
Early online date9-Feb-2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2021


  • bereavement
  • grief
  • trauma
  • intervention
  • therapy
  • internet
  • prolonged grief

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