Prolonged Grief Disorder to Be Included in Revised DSM-5 Based on Work of Institute Affiliate


The American Psychiatric Association (APA) will be including a formal grief disorder, termed Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD), in its revised Fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5-TR). The DSM-5-TR will be officially released in May 2021. This decision comes after decades of applied clinical research and deliberation. It carries far-reaching implications for helping professionals and paraprofessionals who work in many different settings to identify bereaved individuals and families who are truly struggling with their grief (an estimated 10%-15% of bereaved individuals) and may need specialized therapeutic assistance. These settings include palliative and hospice care, school health clinics, community mental health, pediatrics, oncology, bereavement support facilities, and the funeral industry. Of particular concern, tragic and traumatic deaths, including deaths related to COVID-19, suicide, homicide, accidents, and overdose, increase the risk for developing PGD.

Lyda Hill Institute for Human Resilience Affiliate Dr. Christopher Layne and his colleagues have been working with the APA for years to create developmentally appropriate criteria for PGD. Dr. Layne was one of three specialists across the US who were invited to present evidence regarding the reliability, validity, and clinical utility of PGD criteria to the APA. Dr. Layne presented on behalf of bereaved children, adolescents, and their families. Their recommendations were largely accepted, making PGD a more child-friendly and developmentally appropriate diagnosis. Dr. Layne is formally acknowledged in the DSM-5-TR as a key contributor to the body of evidence supporting the diagnosis. He and his colleagues are now working on refining his strength-based theory of grief (multidimensional grief theory), constructing bereavement and grief assessment tools, and creating resilience-enhancing interventions for identifying and helping bereaved youth and their families.


Additional Information and Resources

  • Dr. Layne delivered a presentation on proposed criteria for Prolonged Grief Disorder, which can be found in this NCTSN article.




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