The Cultural Supplement: A New Method for Assessing Culturally Relevant Prolonged Grief Disorder Symptoms


  • Clare Killikelly Orcid
  • Andreas Maercker Orcid


Background: The new diagnosis of prolonged grief disorder (PGD) is both an opportunity and a challenge for researchers, clinicians, and bereaved individuals. The latest definition of PGD includes a refreshing and novel feature: the cultural caveat, i.e., clinicians must determine that the grief presentation is more severe and of longer duration than would be expected by an individual’s culture and context. Currently, there are no guidelines on how to operationalize the cultural caveat in mental health care settings. Method: To respond to this important demand we have developed, piloted, and tested the cultural supplement module of the International Prolonged Grief Disorder scale (IPGDS). The cultural supplement aims to provide clinicians with a catalogue of culturally relevant symptoms of grief that indicate probable PGD alongside a simple framework for cultural adaptation for use in specific clinical settings. Results: In this short report we outline the rationale and aim of the cultural supplement and provide a summary of our latest validation studies of the IPGDS with bereaved German-speaking, Chinese and Swiss migrant individuals. We also provide a step-by-step framework for adaptation of the cultural supplement that clinicians and researchers may use when working with different cultural groups. Conclusion: To date, this is the first PGD questionnaire based on the ICD-11, and the first to include a cultural supplement that can be adapted to different contexts and groups. This cultural supplement will provide clinicians and researchers an easy-to-use assessment tool with the aim to improve the global applicability of the ICD-11 PGD definition.

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