Comparative Distress Levels of Inner-City Family Members of Homicide Victims

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This study investigated the distress levels of 150 family members of homicide victims, as well as how pre-event, peri-event, and postevent variables were related to distress. Distress levels were very high, with 26% of the sample reporting clinical distress. Because it was not possible to say if this distress resulted from the homicide itself or from the fact that people who lose family members to homicide generally have lives rooted in stressful contexts, we compared the homicide sample to two sociodemographically comparable groups of 108 other trauma victims and 119 nonvictims selected from a larger epidemiological dataset. Homicide survivors were significantly more distressed than either group, suggesting that loss of a family member to homicide has definite clinical implications. Although event-related variables were somewhat predictive of distress, pre-event and postevent variables selected for this study had greater predictive utility.

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