, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 491-521

Linking empirically based theory and evaluation: The family bereavement program

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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.

Support for this research was provided by NIMH grant P5OMH39246 which is gratefully acknowledged. David R. Pillow is now at Western Psychiatric Institute, Pittsburgh; Fred Rogosch is at the University of Rochester; Janette Beals is now at University of Colorado Health Sciences Center; Kim D. Reynolds is now at the University of Alabama, Birmingham; Carl Kallgren is now at the Pennsylvania State University, at Erie; and Rafael Ramirez is now at the University of Puerto Rico.