Among 85 adolescents referred for psychiatric evaluation from the adolescent medical services of the Cincinnati General Hospital, 36.4% suffered an earlier parental loss.
In unscreened samples from schools in the area, 11.6% had suffered a similar loss; in unscreened clinic samples 16.6% had a similar loss. There were no significant differences related to sex or race. The difference between referral and contrast groups is significant at the.001 level. In all groups "father loss" occurred with about twice the frequency as "mother loss."
A review of the literature revealed little about earlier parental loss in an adolescent population who came with illnesses to a medical service. The importance of our study is the emphasis on a developmental dimension. Additional research to understand further relationships between earlier parental loss and illness in adolescence is needed.