Childhood bereavement: a rapid literature review

Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre
Publication year:
19p., bibliog.
Place of publication:

Bereavement is one of a range of difficult life events that children and young people may face. Among a nationally representative sample of children aged 5 to 16, 3.8% had experienced the death of a parent or sibling. This research review provides an overview of educational and psychological outcomes for children and young people bereaved of a parent or sibling, and the effectiveness of services provided for this group. It finds that whilst most children do experience some negative impact on psychological wellbeing in the short term, for the majority these difficulties do not persist or require specialist intervention. Evidence of impact on educational attainment is generally lacking. When children do experience a significant negative impact from their experience of bereavement, there is some evidence that specialist interventions and programmes can be helpful, especially those which also strengthen the protective factors within a child’s life for example by providing support to parents as well. The key conclusion from the evidence reviewed is the importance of a differentiated response to childhood bereavement, taking account of each child’s needs and circumstances. The review focuses on two main aspects of childhood bereavement: its impact on children’s outcomes, and the effectiveness of services or interventions intended to address childhood bereavement.

Subject terms:
intervention, mental health, young people, bereavement, children;
Content type:
research review
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