Risk Factors of Complicated Grief in Iran: A Qualitative Study

Document Type : Original Article


1 MSc in Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Educational Sciences & Psychology, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil, Iran

2 Professor, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Educational Sciences & Psychology, University of Mohaghegh Ardabili, Ardabil, Iran.

3 Professor, Department of Counseling, Faculty of Educational Sciences & Psychology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran



Aim and Background: The factors of complicated grief are unclear, and many studies have referred to it as a socio-cultural phenomenon. Therefore, the present research aims to study the risk factors of complicated grief qualitatively.

Method: This investigation's theoretical framework and research methodology were based on quality and phenomenology type. The study included grieving participants (n=15) and psychologists (n=4) specialised in grief and loss counseling. Data was collected through in-depth interviews from December 10, 2022, to April 30, 2023, using purposive sampling (n = 19), and data saturation determined the sample size. Interviews were conducted either online or face-to-face by one well-trained researcher, depending on the participants' convenience. The interviews were conducted in 4 sessions, each lasting about 60–90 min, and simultaneously collected and analyzed the data. The analysis approach of this study was grounded theory.

Results: After transcribing and documenting the interview content, revisited the coding process, yielding 230 distinct codes, and carried out the selective and axial coding processes after extracting the codes. Researchers categorized the codes whittled down to 52 primary codes. These were then divided into three theme clusters (psychological, social, family, and cultural factors). psychological factors such as loss, social factors such as lack of social support, and cultural factors such as wrong comforting behaviors can be effective in complicated grief.

Conclusion: This study suggests that various psychological, cultural, and social determinants contribute to the evolution of grief into a pathological condition, making it a cultural and social phenomenon.