Date of Award

5-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Educational Psychology

Major Professor

Tricia McClam

Committee Members

Gary Skolits, Robert A. Rider, Norma T. Mertz

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the incidence of grief among graduate students, the effects of their grief, types of support sought, and risk of prolonged grief disorder. A total of 1, 575 graduate students enrolled at a large public Southeastern university completed an online survey about their grief experiences. Students experiencing a significant loss also completed the Prolonged Grief Disorder Questionnaire. Findings revealed that approximately 25% of graduate students experienced the loss of a significant person in their lives within the past 24 months. Graduate students reported various grief effects, with emotional effects being the most significant. These effects were experienced within six months post-loss and subsided thereafter. Graduate students also indicated they sought support primarily from family and friends. Only a small percentage (0.5%) of graduate students met the criteria for prolonged grief disorder; however, each student also reported being diagnosed with another mental health illness. Limitations of the study are addressed and recommendations for future research are provided.

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