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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Richard Diller, PhD

Second Advisor

Joan Dayger Behn, PhD


The focus of this study is the development of an observational checklist for assessing families that have had a child die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). A review of the literature is presented as well as an overview of the grief literature relevant to SIDS. There is a paucity of SIDS literature related to the experience of the family subsequent to the death of the infant. Most authors write from an anecdotal perspective and what systematic research has been done leaves gaps either in too narrow a focus or in methodology. The present instrument draws from the strengths of the previous efforts and corrects for the limitations. The SIDS Family Assessment Interview Checklist was designed to be used to gather data in a systematic fashion by individuals such as community health nurses who already have entered into families and therefore is a non-intrusive device. It is designed to be used for initial assessment and follow-up visits. Training materials were developed, a training with health care professionals conducted and inter-rater reliability statistics were computed. Results from the reliability testing indicate the overall instrument to have a 63% rate of agreement (p < .03). The results and implications for further research are discussed. The training materials and the instrument are included in the appendices.