Date of Award

9-16-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Laurie Roehrich, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Gordon Thornton, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Kincade, Ph.D.

Abstract

The death of a loved one is a difficult experience for a child. However, prior research has found several characteristics that put some children at a greater risk than others. This study examined the unique needs that rural communities face trying to provide services to bereaved children and their families. The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a one-day bereavement camp for children and families in a rural area who have lost someone close to them. Participants completed quantitative and qualitative measures designed to evaluate the group. The camp was offered on four occasions, but despite intensive recruitment only seven participants attended. Although the group was well-liked and beneficial to those who attended, the recruitment and attendance difficulties suggest this may be an inefficient use of time and money for the provision of bereavement services to the community. A follow-up study was created to investigate the barriers and possible solutions to aid future programs. Fourteen key informants in the community were interviewed to address this topic and grounded theory was utilized to examine the results. Findings were consistent with the difficulties for other rural mental health programming in regards to accessibility and acceptability. Rural core providers must be aware of these unique variables in rural culture that lead to barriers to treatment and determine which strategies fit best to meet the needs of individuals in these communities.

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