Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Robert M. Oswald

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Brashear

Third Advisor

Dr. David Cowden

Fourth Advisor

Dr. John Geisler


Morbidity and mortality have been identified as potentially negative outcomes for bereaved spouses. Intervention is theorized to be an important factor in bereavement outcome, but few investigators have reported relevant studies depicting a decrease in somatic symptoms relative to planned treatment. The present research was conducted to explore the effect of attendance at a 4-session bereavement support seminar on the expressed physical symptoms of the widowed, within the first year subsequent to spousal death.

Subjects were obtained for this experimental study by the random sampling without replacement method, utilizing the obituary notices appearing in local newspapers. To facilitate generalization of the data results, two locations were utilized, those being, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From the 240 bereaved spouses initially contacted to participate in the study, results from 62 widowed were analyzed as the existing data base. All subjects completed both a Bereavement Information form relating to demographic and illness related variables, as well as a pre-test administration of the Kincannon Mini-Mult, a short form of the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. The designated experimental group then attended a 4-session Bereavement Support Seminar as the treatment intervention. At the conclusion of this support seminar series, both the experimental and control groups completed a posttest administration of the Kincannon Mini-Mult test instrument.

Data from these measures were analyzed by use of a nondirectional two-tailed t test for independent means. Scale 1 (Hypochondriasis) was the measure utilized to compare experimental and control groups expressed somatic complaints, with Scale 3 (Hysteria) analyzed as an adjunct to Scale 1. Both Scale 1 and Scale 3 mean scores of the experimental group posttest administration of the Kincannon Mini-Mult, were found to depict statistically significant differences (p $<$.05) in comparison to the mean scores of the control group on these measures.

These findings suggest there was a positive relationship between the treatment intervention and fewer reported physical symptoms.

It is important that further research be conducted to determine specific variables which facilitate improved health status in bereaved spouses, attempting to reverse some of the negative effects of becoming widowed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

Included in

Counseling Commons