Background: Prolonged or complicated grief disorder occurs in 9.8% of bereaved adults and can progress into adverse health effects if left unresolved. Evidence on the appropriate and specific diagnostic instrument for the assessment of prolonged or complicated grief disorders is lacking. Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of the most widely used instruments to diagnose grief disorders, including The Inventory of Complicated Grief, The Inventory of Complicated Grief - Revised, and the Prolonged Grief Disorder-13. Design: Diagnostic meta-analysis. Data sources: PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Medline, Scopus, Web of Science, and Cochrane were searched up to July 1, 2020. Methods: We included studies evaluating the sensitivity and specificity of grief disorders diagnostic tools against the comparator tests in individuals who experienced the loss of a family member. A diagnostic meta-analysis of pooled sensitivity and specificity, likelihood ratios, and area under curve were performed with a random-effect and hierarchical model. Results: In the current study, 3540 participants were involved. The six studies of the Inventory of Complicated Grief had pooled sensitivity of 0.93 (95% confidence interval: 0.87 to 0.97) and specificity of 0.96 (95% confidence interval: 0.92 to 0.98). The positive likelihood ratio was 23.4 (95% confidence interval: 11.2 to 49.0) and the negative likelihood ratio was 0.07 (95% confidence interval: 0.04 to 0.14) with area under curve value at 0.96 (95% confidence interval: 0.97 to 0.99). For Prolonged Grief Disorder-13, the three included studies' pooled sensitivity was 0.51 (95% confidence interval: 0.42 to 0.60), and the pooled specificity was 0.96 (95% confidence interval: 0.93 to 0.98). The Inventory of Complicated Grief-Revised evaluation could not be performed as only two articles from the same study were identified in this meta-analysis. Conclusions: The Inventory of Complicated Grief is a highly recommend instrument to differentiate the case of grief disorders. Nurses and health care professionals can use the Inventory of Complicated Grief in the diagnosis of prolonged or complicated grief disorders due to its high sensitivity and specificity values. Further evaluations are needed for the use of Prolonged Grief Disorder-13 and Inventory of Complicated Grief-Revised. Registration: The study is registered with the Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/bs8n6/?view_only=109e76e59efb4d7699153f62564f57ed). Tweetable abstract: Inventory of Complicated Grief is a highly recommend instrument with high sensitivity and specificity for diagnosing grief disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103972
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Complicated grief
  • Diagnostic self-evaluation
  • Meta-analysis
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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