Validation of the Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder (PCBD) Checklist: A Developmentally Informed Assessment Tool for Bereaved Youth

Julie B. Kaplow*, Christopher M. Layne, Benjamin Oosterhoff, Hayley Goldenthal, Kathryn H. Howell, Rachel Wamser-Nanney, Amanda Burnside, Karen Calhoun, Daphne Marbury, Laura Johnson-Hughes, Molly Kriesel, Mary Beth Staine, Marian Mankin, La Tanya Porter-Howard, Robert Pynoos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The inclusion of Persistent Complex Bereavement Disorder (PCBD) in the DSM-5 appendix signifies a call for research regarding the distinguishing features and clinical utility of proposed PCBD criteria. Rigorously constructed tools for assessing PCBD are lacking, especially for youth. This study evaluated the validity and clinical utility of the PCBD Checklist, a 39-item measure designed to assess PCBD criteria in youth aged 8 to18 years. Test construction procedures involved: (a) reviewing the literature regarding developmental manifestations of proposed criteria, (b) creating a developmentally informed item pool, (c) surveying an expert panel to evaluate the clarity and developmental appropriateness of candidate items, (d) conducting focus groups to evaluate the comprehensibility and acceptability of items, and (e) evaluating psychometric properties in 367 bereaved youth (Mage = 13.49, 55.0% female). The panel, clinicians, and youth provided favorable content validity and comprehensibility ratings for candidate items. As hypothesized, youth who met full PCBD criteria, Criterion B (e.g., preoccupation with the deceased and/or circumstances of the death), or Criterion C (e.g., reactive distress and/or social/identity disruption) reported higher posttraumatic stress and depressive symptoms than youth who did not meet these criteria, ηp 2 =.07–.16. Youth who met Criterion C reported greater functional impairment than youth who did not, ηp 2 =.08–.12. Youth who qualified for the “traumatic bereavement specifier” reported more frequent posttraumatic stress symptoms than youth who did not, ηp 2 =.04. Findings support the convergent, discriminant, and discriminant-groups validity, developmental appropriateness, and clinical utility of the PCBD Checklist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)244-254
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Traumatic Stress
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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