The Grief Study: sociodemographic determinants of poor outcomes following death of a family member.

Everybody needs to deal with bereavement at some stage; but for some people, this can be a more difficult process. There are many factors that can influence how people cope with the loss of a loved one, including level of family support, financial resources, stress, and the circumstances surrounding death.

The Grief Study investigates the levels of ‘complicated grief’ following the death of a loved one. By studying people’s use of prescription medications to help with mental health, we can get a better understanding of how factors such as age, gender, family support, employment and religion affect how people cope after bereavement. By looking at how people become bereaved – for example, after illness, road traffic accidents, violence or after suicide – we can learn how important the reasons for bereavement are in terms of how people cope. This study will also look to see if the factors that help people cope – such as family support – are more or less important depending on how they lost their loved ones.

The Grief Study is based on data from the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study, this holds information on around 500,000 people. By linking NILS data with the Northern Ireland Mortality Study (with information on death for the entire Northern Ireland population) and Health & Social care information on prescriptions, the Grief Study aims to learn more about bereavement, mental health, complicated grief, and longer term outcomes for people who have lost a loved one.

It is important to identify the people who are in greatest need after bereavement, so that professionals, family and friends can make sure to offer the care and support that they need.



Moriarty, J., Maguire, A., O’Reilly, D., and McCann, M. (2015). ‘Bereavement following informal care-giving: Assessing mental health burden using linked population data.’ American Journal of Public Health, 105(8), 1630-1637, doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302597


Other Outputs:

Maguire, A., McCann, M., Moriarty, J. & O’Reilly, D. (2014) ‘Bereavement and mental health‘ – Presented at the European Public Health Association Conference, 19th-21st November 2014.

Maguire, A., McCann, M., Moriarty, J. and O’Reilly, D. (2015) ‘Using administrative data to understand mental health in Northern Ireland: Results from two exemplar projects‘ – Presented at the Northern Ireland Assembly Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series, 4th February 2015.



Research Team: Dr Mark McCann, Dr Dermot O’Reilly, Dr Aideen Maguire and Dr John Moriarty
Database: NILS & NIMS
Project Status: Complete
Organisation(s): Queen’s University Belfast, Institute of Childcare Research and Centre for Public Health