Katherine Supiano, PhD, LCSW, Associate Professor University of Utah
In partnership with Utah Telehealth Network and Community Nursing Services, we developed, implemented, and evaluated a distance-technology delivered clinician-facilitated grief support group program for grieving persons in rural Utah communities. Unaddressed problematic grief can be disabling, and rural community hospices lack suitable resources. Four 8-session grief groups were delivered. The groups were co-facilitated by the PI and trained hospice social worker. Participants were assessed with Brief Grief Questionnaire (BGQ), Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG-r) at baseline and at end of group, and weekly participant progress was assessed using the facilitator-assessed Clinical Global Impression Revised Scale (CGI-r). We evaluated feasibility including recruitment, retention, technology acceptability, and facilitator group skills and manual adherence. Participants included 25 females and one male, with a mean age of 56.46 (12.77). Despite hospice enrollment, 50% reported the death was unexpected. The mean BGQ and ICG-r score differences from baseline were -1.25 (1.92) and -4.79 (7.29), at p < 0.004. Grief severity as measured by CGI-r declined at -0.26 (p < 0.001) and grief improvement increased at 0.06 (p = 0.196) per week. Participants demonstrated acceptability and appreciation of technology. Distance-delivered grief group support is acceptable and feasible and merits translation into standard hospice service delivery.