Articles

American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 491-521

Linking empirically based theory and evaluation: The family bereavement program

  • Irwin N. SandlerAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , Stephen G. WestAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , Louise BacaAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , David R. PillowAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , Joanne C. GerstenAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , Fred RogoschAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , Lynn VirdinAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , Janette BealsAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • , Kim D. ReynoldsAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
    • , Carl KallgrenAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
    • , Jenn-Yun TeinAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
    • , Gary KriegeAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
    • , Eloise ColeAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
    • , Rafael RamirezAffiliated withProgram for Prevention Research, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University

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Conclusion

We have illustrated how our “small theory” (Lipsey, 1990) of bereavement guided the development and evaluation of a preventive intervention for bereaved children. Our small theory, based on prior empirical research, enabled us to identify family processes that appeared to mediate the effects of parental death on child mental health. Our intervention was designed to attempt to change these processes. The evaluation of our experimental trial of the intervention assessed changes on these processes as well as the more distal mental health outcomes. The experimental trial showed some-what encouraging results, in terms of the program's ability to modify the warmth of the parent–child relationship and to decrease symptomatology in the adolescent children. We also obtained further empirical support for our underlying theoretical model. Finally, implications for redesign of the program were derived from assessing the adequacy of the program components to change each of the mediators in the theoretical model.