Mental health and grief in older people


Grief is a common experience after loss. Older adults are likely to encounter the loss of a loved one more often than other age groups. Acute grief normally evolves over time into integrated grief but for some, grief may be prolonged, severe and impairing. Prolonged grief can be associated with higher rates of depression and suicidal thoughts. It is, therefore, pivotal to identify and support individuals at risk of developing prolonged grief. There is evidence that staff may not always have sufficient time, skills and re-sources to offer such support. In addition, older people may be reluctant to discuss their mental health and grief with their family, GP or other care staff. Grief in older people may, consequently, go undetected and untreated. This project seeks to examine the effects of grief in older people on healthcare use from the perspective of (a) the older bereaved person who is experiencing grief and (b) GPs and practice nurses who are treating grieving older people.

NARI, RMIT, Department of Health and Human and Services, Federation University, Deakin University, University of Melbourne, Monash University, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network, Carers Victoria.

1. Mixed-methods approach using quantitative questionnaires and qualitative interviews with older people who are experiencing grief and additional interviews with GPs who are treating older grieving people.
2. Identify how older people are coping with grief, which bereavement support services they use (if any) and how healthcare staff like GPs and practice nurses respond to grief in older people.

Status update:

Project is underway after ethics was approved through Deakin University. Survey and interview component is now underway and active, with recruitment for both the surveys and the interviews ongoing.

Project update

Survey invitation for older people:

If you would like to help improve bereavement support for older people, we invite you complete a short survey, or to participate in one of our interviews. To participate, you need to be:

a) Currently living in Australia.

b) Aged 65 years or older.

c) Able to read and write in English.

d) Have experienced the death of a significant person in your life at least 6 months ago or longer.


To complete the survey, please follow this link:

If you would prefer a paper-based survey to be posted to you, please contact Dr. Katrin Gerber (email:, phone: 0383 872 662)

Survey flyer for older people


Interview invitation for GPs and practice nurses

If you are a GP or practice nurse in Australia, who regularly works with patients aged 65 years or older, we invite you to participate in a 1-hour interview. Interviews are conducted via telephone or Zoom and we offer to compensate you for your time.

Interview flyer for GPs

Interview flyer for practice nurses