Predicting Grief Reactions One Year Following a Mass University Shooting: Evaluating Dose-Response and Contextual Predictors


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Abstract

This study identifies risk factors for grief following a mass school shooting. Participants (N = 1,013) completed online questionnaires 3-4 months (Time 1) and 1 year (Time 2) post-shootings. We tested models predicting Time 2 grief reactions, exploring direct and indirect predictive effects of exposure variables (physical and social proximity) through hypothesized peritraumatic mediators (peritraumatic perceived threat to self or others) while controlling for Time 1 grief and posttraumatic stress (PTS) reactions, pretrauma vulnerabilities. Findings demonstrate that closer social proximity predicted higher levels of Time 2 grief, directly and indirectly through increasing peritraumatic perceived threat to others' safety. Physical proximity and peritraumatic threat to self did not predict Time 2 grief reactions. Implications for grief screening instruments and theory building research through identifying risk factors and causal mechanisms are discussed.

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