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Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Prolonged Grief Disorder in families bereaved by a traumatic workplace death: the need for satisfactory information and support


Matthews, LR and Quinlan, MG and Bohle, P, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Prolonged Grief Disorder in families bereaved by a traumatic workplace death: the need for satisfactory information and support, Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10 Article 609. ISSN 1664-0640 (2019) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright © 2019 Matthews, Quinlan and Bohle. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2019.00609


The impact of traumatic workplace death on bereaved families, including their mental health and well-being, has rarely been systematically examined. This study aimed to document the rates and key correlates of probable posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and prolonged grief disorder (PGD) in family members following a workplace injury fatality. The hidden nature of the target population necessitated outreach recruitment techniques, including the use of social media, newspaper articles, radio interviews, and contact with major family support organizations. Data were collected using a cross-sectional design and international online survey. The PCL-C (PTSD), the PHQ-8 (MDD), and PG-13 (PGD) were used to measure mental health disorders. All are well-established self-report measures with strong psychometric qualities. Participants were from Australia (62%), Canada (17%), the USA (16%), and the UK (5%). The majority were females (89.9%), reflecting the gender distribution of traumatic workplace deaths (over 90% of fatalities are male). Most were partners/spouses (38.5%) or parents (35%) and over half (64%) were next of kin to the deceased worker. Most deaths occurred in the industries that regularly account for more than 70 percent of all industrial deaths—construction, manufacturing, transport, and agriculture forestry and fishing. At a mean of 6.40 years (SD = 5.78) post-death, 61 percent of participants had probable PTSD, 44 percent had probable MDD, and 43 percent had probable PGD. Logistic regressions indicated that a longer time since the death reduced the risk of having each disorder. Being next of kin and having a self-reported mental health history increased the risk of having MDD. Of the related information and support variables, having satisfactory support from family, support from a person to help navigate the post-death formalities, and satisfactory information about the death were associated with a decreased risk of probable PTSD, MDD, and PGD, respectively. The findings highlight the potential magnitude of the problem and the need for satisfactory information and support for bereaved families.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:PTSD, family, industrial deaths, information, injury fatality, mental health, support, traumatic bereavement
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Mental health services
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Mental health
UTAS Author:Bohle, P (Professor Philip Bohle)
ID Code:137177
Year Published:2019
Web of Science® Times Cited:10
Deposited By:TSBE
Deposited On:2020-02-04
Last Modified:2020-03-12
Downloads:24 View Download Statistics

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