Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 190–201

The Underlying Structure of Grief: A Taxometric Investigation of Prolonged and Normal Reactions to Loss


    • Center for Health Care Evaluation, VA Palo Alto Health Care SystemStanford University Medical Center
  • Robert A. Neimeyer
    • University of Memphis
  • Paul A. Boelen
    • Utrecht University
  • Holly G. Prigerson
    • Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care ResearchDana-Farber Cancer Institute
    • Department of Psychiatry, Brigham and Women’s HospitalHarvard Medical School
    • Harvard Medical School Center for Palliative CareHarvard Medical School

DOI: 10.1007/s10862-008-9113-1

Cite this article as:
Holland, J.M., Neimeyer, R.A., Boelen, P.A. et al. J Psychopathol Behav Assess (2009) 31: 190. doi:10.1007/s10862-008-9113-1


Recent studies have supported the distinctiveness of complicated and prolonged forms of grief as a cluster of symptoms that is separate from other psychiatric disorders. The distinction between prolonged and normal reactions to loss remains unclear, however, with some believing that prolonged grief represents a qualitatively distinct clinical entity and others conceptualizing it as the extreme end of a continuum. Thus, in this study a taxometric methodology was used to examine the underlying structure of grief. Participants included 1,069 bereaved individuals who had lost a first-degree relative. Each participant completed the Dutch version of the Inventory of Complicated Grief–Revised, which was used to create indicators of prolonged grief. The mean above and mean below a cut (MAMBAC) and maximum eigenvalue (MAXEIG) tests supported a dimensional conceptualization, indicating that pathological reactions might be best defined by the severity of grief symptoms rather than the presence or absence of specific symptoms.


Complicated griefProlonged grief disorderBereavementDeath and dyingTaxometric method

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008