Psychological Effects on Surviving Family Members of Seeing the Deceased Person After Forensic Autopsy

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Abstract

In medicolegal autopsy, it is essential to consider the emotions experienced by relatives of the deceased person. This study examined the psychological effects on surviving family members of seeing the deceased person's body after forensic autopsy. Participants (n = 359) were surveyed by means of a questionnaire designed to measure posttraumatic symptoms; 62 participants had been involved in traumatic events related to the bereavement (trauma-involved group), and 297 participants had not (no-involvement group). Statistical analyses using structural equation modeling (SEM) showed that the model implying a significant difference between these groups was better fitted, than that implying no difference. The trauma-involved group showed a higher score for posttraumatic symptoms than the no-involvement group (Ms = .32 and .00, respectively). However, there was a negative correlation in the trauma-involved group between seeing the deceased person after forensic autopsy and posttraumatic symptoms (r = −.43), but there was no correlation (r = −.01) in the no-involvement group. Furthermore, factor structure for posttraumatic symptoms in bereaved people showed that treatment focused on avoidance behavior would be most effective Japan.

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