Development and evaluation of the Good Grief program for young people bereaved by familial cancer

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BMC Palliative Care


Background: Adolescents and young adults (AYAs) bereaved by the death of a parent or sibling from cancer report unique psychosocial needs and can have difficulty adjusting to their loss. Unaddressed, this can result in poor long-term bereavement outcomes. This paper describes the development and evaluation of Good Grief – a 3-day camp-based program focused on meeting coping, social support, and respite needs of AYAs bereaved by familial cancer. Methods: One hundred and nine Australian AYAs (68% female; age: 12–25 years, M = 16.63) participated in the evaluation. Grief intensity (Texas Revised Inventory of Grief), meaning-making (Grief and Meaning Reconstruction Inventory), trauma coping (Perceived Ability to Cope with Trauma Scale) and unmet needs (Bereaved Cancer Needs Instrument) measures were administered pre-program and 3-months post-program. Acceptability was measured after each session and at the program’s conclusion. Appropriateness was measured at 3-month follow-up. Thirteen participants were interviewed three months post-program on their perceptions of the program. Results: Participants reported high program satisfaction, engagement with psychosocial sessions, and enjoyment of recreational activities. Significant improvements were observed in trauma coping abilities and reductions in unmet needs for managing emotions, social support, respite, future planning, and accessing information and support domains. No change was evident in grief intensity or meaning-making as measured quantitatively. Interviews supported these quantitative findings but also identified evidence of personal growth, a component of meaning-making. Conclusions: Good Grief is a highly acceptable and beneficial intervention that addresses the unique needs of AYAs bereaved by familial cancer.

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