An exploration of gender and prolonged grief symptoms using network analysis

F. Maccallum*, M. Lundorff, M. Johannsen, I. Farver-Vestergaard, M. O'Connor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Background Gender has been proposed as a potentially important predictor of bereavement outcomes. The majority of research in the field has explored this issue by examining gender differences in global grief severity. Findings have been mixed. In this study, we explore potential gender differences in grief using network analysis. This approach examines how individual symptoms relate to and reinforce each other, and so offers potential to shed light on novel aspects of grief expression across genders. Method Graphical lasso networks were constructed using self-report data from 839 spousally bereaved older participants (584 female, 255 male) collected at 2- and 11- months post-bereavement. Edge strength, node strength and global network strength were compared to identify similarities and differences between gender networks across time. Results At both time points, the strongest connection for both genders was from yearning to pangs of grief. Yearning, pangs of grief, acceptance, bitterness and shock were prominent nodes at time 1. Numbness and meaninglessness emerged as prominent nodes at time 2. Males and females differed in the relative importance of shock at time 1, and the female network had greater overall strength than the male network at time 2. Conclusions This study identified many similarities and few differences in the relationships between prolonged grief symptoms for males and females. Findings suggest that future studies should examine alternate sources of variation in grief outcomes. Limitations are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychological Medicine
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1770-1777
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press.


  • Gender
  • grief
  • networks
  • prolonged grief


Dive into the research topics of 'An exploration of gender and prolonged grief symptoms using network analysis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this