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Table 1 Study characteristics

From: A systematic review of studies describing the influence of informal social support on psychological wellbeing in people bereaved by sudden or violent causes of death

Author, year, country Study design
Sample source
Sample demographics Mode of bereavement
Time since bereavement
Social support measures Measured outcomes
Bailey, 2013, Canada [29] Cross-sectional
Community organisation
n=48
mean age=51.5
100% female
Child lost to gun violence
0.5-12 years
Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS) [30] Resilience
Bottomley, 2017, U.S.A. [31] Longitudinal (6 month follow-up)
Support organisation
n=47
mean age=49.7
89.4% female
Family member lost to homicide
Mean length= 1.66 years at T1, 2.16 at T2
Arizona Social Support Interview Schedule (ASSIS) [32] PTSD, complicated grief, depression, anxiety
Burke, 2010, U.S.A. [33] Cross-sectional
Support organisation
n=54
mean age=48.6
88.9% female
Family member lost to homicide
Mean length= 1.75 years
ASSIS, Inventory of Social Support (ISS) [34] & MSPSS PTSD, complicated grief, depression
Cowan, 1985, U.S.A.a [27] Cross-sectional
Death certificates/ court records
n=119 (50 control)
mean age=unclear
70% female
Friends and family lost in natural disaster
Mean length= .92 years
Coppel Index of Social Support (CISS) [35] Depression
Murphy, 1988, U.S.A.a [28] Cross-sectional
Death certificates/ court records
Official population records
n= 49 (bereaved) /36 (control)
mean age= 30/37
74%/65% female
Friends and family lost in natural disaster
Mean length= 3 years (estimate)
CISS Mental distress, recovery
Fullerton, 1999, U.S.A. [36] Cross-sectional
Air force squadron
n=71
mean age=33
4.0% female
Squadron members of personnel lost in plane crash
Mean length= 0.17 years
Perceived Social Support Scales (Family and Friends) [37] Depression, initial impact of event
Heeke, 2017, Colombia [38] Cross-sectional
Humanitarian organisation
n=308
mean age=48.5
61.7% female
Significant other lost in armed conflict
Mean length= 12.4 years
DUKE-UNC Functional Social Support Questionnaire [39] PTSD, Prolonged grief, emotional distress
Kristensen, 2010, Norway [40] Cross-sectional
Official population records (police deceased list and population register)
n=130
mean age=45.7
51.5% female
Family member lost in natural disaster
Mean length= 2.2 years
Crisis Support Scale (CSS) [41] Complicated grief
Levi-Belz, 2015, Israel [42] Cross-sectional
Support organisation/online support forum
n=135
mean age=40.3
77.0% female
Family member lost to suicide
Mean length = 3.5 years
MSPSS Stress-related growth
Levi-Belz, 2019, Israel [43] Cross-sectional
Support organisation/online support forum/online advertising
n=156
mean age=40.7
81.4% female
Family member or friend lost to suicide
Mean length = 10 years
MSPSS Complicated grief
Li, 2015, China [44] Cross-sectional
Official population records
n=803
mean age=46.7
63% female
Family lost to natural disaster
Mean length = 1.0 years
MSPSS Complicated grief
Oexle, 2019, U.S.A [45] Cross-sectional
Support organisation/online advertising
n=195
mean age=50
92% female
Immediate family lost to suicide
Mean length = 8.9 years
Perceived Social Support Questionnaire
(PSSQ) [46]
Depression, personal growth, grief difficulties, suicidal ideation
Rheingold, 2015, U.S.A. [47] Cross-sectional
Official population records
n=47
mean age=78.7
78.7% female
Immediate family lost to homicide
Mean length = 2.1 years
ISS PTSD, complicated grief, depression
Spino, 2016, U.S.A. [48] Cross-sectional
Social support group/online advertising
n=44
mean age=44
75% female
Adults bereaved by suicide
Length of loss unclear
Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire (NSSQ) [49] Depression, loneliness
Sprang, 1998, U.S.A. [50] Cross-sectional
Support organisation
n=171
mean age=34
54.4% female
Immediate family killed by drunk driver
Mean length = 2.3 years
Provisions of Social Relations Scale (PSRS) [51] PTSD, grief, mourning
Xu, 2017, China [52] Cross-sectional
Official population records
n=176
mean age=54.7
52.3% female
Child lost to natural disaster 6.0-6.3 years Social Support Rating Scale (SSRS) [53] PTSD
  1. aMurphy [28] is a follow-up of Cowan [27], but measured different outcomes so is not comparable