Complicated grief: Risk factors, interventions, and resources for oncology nurses

Cindy S. Tofthagen, Kevin Kip, Ann Witt, Susan C. McMillan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: When a loved one dies of cancer, complicated grief (CG) may occur because of the trauma associated with family caregivers’ perceptions of their loved one’s suffering, either from advanced cancer or from side effects of cancer treatment. OBJECTIVES: This article provides an overview of CG and existing interventions for family caregivers who may be at risk for CG following the loss of a loved one and the implications for oncology nurses who provide emotional support and guidance. METHODS: Current evidence related to the treatment of CG and information to assist with identification of individuals at risk for CG are presented, as well as resources for oncology nurses who encounter individuals who are at high risk for, or who are experiencing, CG. FINDINGS: Although therapy interventions for CG have been shown to be effective forms of treatment, these therapies are not widely available and often require an extended treatment period to yield results. Oncology nurses can provide early interventions, such as referrals to supportive care services and mental health professionals to facilitate effective treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)331-337
Number of pages7
JournalClinical journal of oncology nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2017


  • End-of-life care
  • Family caregivers
  • Grief
  • Integrative therapies
  • Patient education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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