Background: Whereas the majority of bereaved persons recover from their grief without professional assistance, a minority develops pathological grief reactions. Etiological models postulate that dysfunctional cognitions may perpetuate such reactions. The Grief Cognitions Questionnaire (GCQ) assesses thoughts after bereavement in nine interrelated domains. A short form (GCQ-SF) with four domains is often used. However, an evaluation of the psychometric properties of the GCQ-SF and its utility compared to the GCQ is lacking and these instruments have not been validated in German. Method: German bereaved persons (time since loss 35.3 ± 34.6 months) responded to an online survey containing the GCQ, measures of grief severity, grief rumination, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and optimism and pessimism. 585 participants (18–78 years, 88% women) were included. Item analyses and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted. Correlations between the GCQ and GCQ-SF and grief rumination, optimism and pessimism assessed construct validity. Criterion-related validity was assessed by comparing whether the correlation of the GCQ (and the GCQ-SF) with grief severity was higher than with anxious and depressive symptoms. Logistic regression and receiver-operator characteristics (ROC) compared the questionnaires on their ability to predict probable prolonged grief ‘caseness’ (ICG ≥ 25, time since loss ≥6 months). Results: Internal consistencies for both questionnaires were identical and excellent (α = 0.96). Confirmatory factor analyses obtained a satisfactory fit for models with nine and four correlated subscales and respective higher-order factor models. The GCQ and the GCQ-SF correlated higher with grief severity than with other measures of psychopathology. The logistic regression showed a significant association between the GCQ-SF and prolonged grief ‘caseness’. Of the remaining subscales of the GCQ, only one subscale (‘Others’) contributed to the prediction. The ROC analyses showed nearly identical areas under the curve. Conclusion: The translated GCQ and GCQ-SF demonstrated very good psychometric properties. The correlations with grief severity highlight the questionnaires’ clinical relevance. The questionnaires possessed identical diagnostic specificity and sensitivity. Whenever a timesaving assessment of the most typical grief-specific cognitions is important, the GCQ-SF represents an alternative to the GCQ. The original GCQ may still be superior when a more detailed description of a bereaved person’s cognitions is desirable.
- validation study