Accelerated Resolution Therapy: Randomized Controlled Trial of a Complicated Grief Intervention

Harleah G. Buck, Paula Cairns, Nnadozie Emechebe, Diego F. Hernandez, Tina M. Mason, Jesse Bell, Kevin E. Kip, Philip Barrison, Cindy Tofthagen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: Complicated grief (CG) is severe, prolonged (>12 months) grieving. Complicated grief disproportionately affects older adults and is associated with negative physical/psychological effects. Although treatment options exist, those which do are time-intensive. We report on a randomized clinical trial (RCT) which examined whether accelerated resolution therapy (ART), a novel mind-body therapy, is effective in treating CG, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression among hospice informal caregivers. Research Design and Methods: Prospective 2 group, wait-listed RCT. All participants were scheduled to receive 4 ART sessions. Inclusion: ≥60 years, inventory of CG >25, and PTSD checklist for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition >33 or Psychiatric Diagnostic Screen Questionnaire PTSD subscale >5. Exclusion: Major psychiatric disorder, other current psychotherapy treatment. Depression was measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression. Results: Mean (standard deviation [SD]) age of 54 participants was 68.7 (7.2) years, 85% female, and 93% white. Participants assigned to ART reported significantly greater mean (SD) CG reduction (−22.8 [10.3]) versus Wait-list participants (−4.3 [6.0]). Within-participant effect sizes (ESs) for change from baseline to 8-week post-treatment were CG (ES = 1.96 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.45-2.47; P <.0001), PTSD (ES = 2.40 [95% CI: 1.79-3.00]; P <.0001), depression (ES = 1.63 [95% CI: 1.18-2.08; P <.0001). Treatment effects did not substantially differ by baseline symptom levels. Discussion and Implications: Results suggests that ART presents an effective and less time-intensive intervention for CG in older adults. However, it should undergo further effectiveness testing in a larger, more diverse clinical trial with a focus on determining physiological or behavioral mechanisms of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)791-799
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • bereavement
  • caregiver
  • complicated grief
  • depression
  • family
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • randomized clinical trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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