Award Date

August 2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

First Committee Member

Christopher A. Kearney

Second Committee Member

Murray Millar

Third Committee Member

Stephen Benning

Fourth Committee Member

Jennifer Keene

Number of Pages

134

Abstract

Bereavement is one of life's greatest challenges, but most grievers recover within approximately six months after the loss. Prolonged Grief Disorder or Complicated Grief describes the 10-20% who continue to struggle with chronic and severe symptoms such as yearning and/or longing for the deceased. Those with prolonged grief are at elevated risk for a number of detrimental physical and mental health outcomes. Unfinished business, which refers to a subjective perception that something was left undone, unsaid, or unresolved with the deceased, is one marker indicating greater risk for such symptomology. Although a common target for intervention, no empirically validated tool exists to evaluate this construct. The purpose of the present study was to develop and test a measure of unfinished business based on emerging themes from previous investigations and for use in clinical assessment, intervention, and research.

Drawing upon a student sample of bereaved adults, principal component analysis was used to examine the factor structure of the proposed measure. Two- and four-factor solutions were examined. The rotated and unrotated solutions exhibited minimal differences in loadings. All items positively loaded on the first factor in both solutions. The first factor, General Unfinished Business (UFB) Distress, exhibited significant associations with greater pathological grief symptoms, less meaning made of the loss, and greater self-reported anxious attachment, indicating good concurrent validity. Using hierarchical multiple linear regression, this factor demonstrated good incremental validity, accounting for 36% of the variance in both the two- and four-factor solutions. However, General UFB Distress did not demonstrate convergent or divergent validity with personality dimensions. The other factors in the two- and four-factor solutions showed less utility in predicting pathological grief. Future investigations should aim for a measure with fewer, better-crafted items producing a clear factor structure.

Keywords

bereavement; death; distress; grief; unfinished business

Disciplines

Psychology

Language

English


Included in

Psychology Commons

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