Unresolved grief is a significant burden for parents whose children are affected by cystic fibrosis (CF), according to a new study published in Scientific Reports. It is therefore important to provide disease-related education and psychological support to these parents to allow for the resolution of grief.

Unresolved grief can be defined as a form of grief that lasts much longer than normal, is more severe in intensity, and worsens with time interfering with a person’s ability to function normally in daily life. Unresolved grief can be caused by the diagnosis of their child with a chronic disease such as CF.

The present study evaluated the efficacy of psychological insight-oriented psychotherapy in treating unresolved grief in comparison to disease-related education in parents of children with CF.

A total of 22 parents with unresolved grief ranging between 6 months and 14 years either received 5 one-hour-long sessions of insight-oriented psychotherapy or disease-related education.

Read more about patient education for CF

The results showed that anxiety and stress were significantly more prevalent among parents with unresolved grief than other parents of children with CF.

The results also showed that 7 of the 8 mental health measures that were assessed were lower in parents with unresolved grief who received insight-oriented psychotherapy than those who received disease-related education. However, this was not statistically significant.

“[Unresolved grief] is a significant burden for families affected by CF,” the researchers concluded. “However, it can potentially be resolved with education and/or psychotherapy.” These findings suggest that more research is needed on how to improve practices around the diagnosis of CF and “incorporate grief identification and appropriately targeted intervention for parents,” they said.

Insight-oriented psychotherapy is an approach that aims to help people develop new insights about their suffering and make a positive change in their internal world and state of mind.

Reference

Schultz A, Barrett A, Balding E, et al. A pilot study of disease related education and psychotherapeutic support for unresolved grief in parents of children with CF. Sci Rep. 2022;6;12(1):5746. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-09463-8