Nursing diagnosis Risk for maladaptive grieving

Risk for maladaptive grieving

Risk for maladaptive grieving

Domain 9. Coping-stress tolerance
Class 2. Coping responses
Diagnostic Code: 00302
Nanda label: Risk for maladaptive grieving
Diagnostic focus: Grieving

Table of Contents

Introduction to Nursing Diagnosis of Risk for Maladaptive Grieving

Grieving is an emotional and physical process that allows people to express their pain or sorrow caused by a loss. Under some conditions, however, grief can become maladaptive and lead to serious mental and physical problems such as depression, substance abuse, and physical illness. For this reason, medical professionals attach great importance to the nursing diagnosis of risk for maladaptive grieving and develop ways to assess, monitor and prevent it.

NANDA Nursing Diagnosis Definition

"Risk for maladaptive grieving" is a nursing diagnosis published by the North American Nursing Diagnosis Association (NANDA). This diagnosis refers to a state in which an individual is at risk of not developing adaptive coping skills for effective grief resolution. This is usually due to particular factors that make someone vulnerable to complicated grief.

Risk Factors

There are several factors that can increase the likelihood of maladaptive grieving such as:

  • Previous Loss. Individuals who have experienced prior losses may find it more difficult to cope with a new loss, making them more vulnerable to maladaptive grieving.
  • Significant Attachment. Those who experience deep attachment to the lost person may be especially vulnerable to maladaptive grieving due to the intensity of their attachment.
  • Inability to Face Reality. People who are unable to accept the reality of the loss may also be more likely to fall into maladaptive grieving since they are unable to make sense of the pain and move forward.
  • Social Isolation. Individuals who lack external supportive forces may find themselves more isolated and isolated individuals are more likely to fall into maladaptive patterns of grief resolution.

At Risk Populations

Certain populations may be at special risk of maladaptive grieving. These include:

  • Seniors. Older adults may face specific challenges when dealing with a major loss due to a combination of reduced physical and mental resources, greater life experience, and increased health concerns.
  • Children. Young people are often emotionally ill-equipped to handle major losses, making them especially vulnerable to maladaptive grieving.
  • People Suffering from Mental Illness. People with underlying mental health issues may be more prone to maladaptive grieving since they often lack adequate coping strategies.

Associated Conditions

Maladaptive grieving can lead to the development of several serious physical and mental health conditions, including:

  • Depression. Long-term grief can lead to serious depression, as individuals become further and further distanced from healthy life and activities.
  • Substance Abuse. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to try to soothe their pain, leading to long-term addiction problems.
  • Physical Illness. Chronic stress can weaken the immune system and leave a person more vulnerable to physical illness.

Suggestions for Use

The nursing diagnosis of risk for maladaptive grieving can prove extremely useful for medical professionals assessing risk factors, monitor ongoing mental health, and develop interventions. It should be applied together with other diagnoses such as risk for impaired parenting and risk for spiritual distress since all these diagnoses are interrelated and can help clinicians get an overall picture of a person's mental health.

Suggested Alternative NANDA Nursing Diagnoses

When evaluating a person's risk for maladaptive grieving, there are several alternative nursing diagnoses which can be considered, such as:

  • Grieving. This diagnosis can help identify those who are in the middle of the grief process, allowing clinicians to intervene and limit the potential for maladaptive responses.
  • Ineffective Coping. This diagnosis helps clinicians to identify patients who lack the resources to adequately cope with the loss.
  • Risk for Other-directed Violence. This diagnosis can help identify individuals at risk of exhibiting violent behavior against others, a common response to loss.

Usage Tips

To define the presence or absence of this diagnosis, medical professionals should ask the following questions:

  • Do you feel like you are going through a significant loss?
  • Are you able to accept that reality?
  • Do you feel like your emotional responses might become harmful to yourself or others?

NOC Outcomes

The NOC outcomes for this diagnosis cover a wide range of emotional and psychological elements, including:

  • Mental Health Status. Evaluating the patient's ability to maintain healthy mental health.
  • Grief Resolution. Assessing the adequacy of the patient's ability to manage their grieving.
  • Pacing Activity. Examining if the patient is pacing themselves properly and avoiding overexertion.
  • Self-care. Evaluating how capable the patient is of taking care of their own needs.
  • Coping Behavior. Identifying the patient's level of adaptation to their changing circumstances.

Evaluation Objectives and Criteria

Evaluation of the risk for maladaptive grieving should focus on the degree to which the patient is able to keep their mental and physical health within healthy parameters while going through the grieving process. Criteria which need to be considered include:

  • Level of Control. How capable is the patient of managing their emotions and actions in a healthy manner?
  • Resources. Does the patient have access to enough resources (social, material, psychological) to keep their health within acceptable limits?
  • Mental Resilience. Is the patient capable of finding hope and motivation even within difficult situations?
  • Behavioral Indicators. Are there any outward signs that suggest the patient is unable to handle their grief in a positive manner?

NIC Interventions

Interventions used to reduce the risk of maladaptive grieving should focus on helping the patient deal with the stressful situation in a positive and healthy manner. Possible interventions include:

  • Grief Counseling. Professional counseling aimed at helping the patient express their pain in a safe and beneficial manner.
  • Family Support. Providing family members or other sources of emotional support to help the patient through the grieving process.
  • Preparation of Expectations. Helping the patient understand what to expect from the grieving process and thus reducing feelings of helplessness and uncertainty.
  • Substance Abuse Treatment. Incorporating substance abuse treatment in mental health care if necessary.
  • Meditation. Encouraging the patient to engage in calming activities such as meditation to reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Nursing Activities

Nurses should focus on a wide range of activities related to reducing the risk of maladaptive grieving, such as:

  • Administration of Questionnaires. Administering validated psychometric questionnaires to measure emotional health or implement specific psychological interventions.
  • Debriefing. Holding debriefings to discuss the effects of the loss and to identify warning signs of worsening mental health.
  • Identification of Potential Resources. Identifying the resources which the patient can draw upon to help them cope with the loss.
  • Monitoring of Emotional States. Monitoring the patient for signs and/or changes in their emotional states.
  • Facilitation of Healthy Habits. Encouraging the adoption of healthy habits such as exercise, good nutrition, and positive social connections.


Nurses play an integral role in the assessment, monitoring, prevention, and intervention of maladaptive grieving. By utilizing a variety of tools and techniques, nurses can ensure that patients and their families are able to properly process the feelings associated with a major loss, thus avoiding the serious physical and mental health complications associated with maladaptive grieving.


  • What is maladaptive grieving?
  • What are the risk factors for maladaptive grieving?
  • Who is most at risk for developing maladaptive grieving?
  • What are the associated conditions of maladaptive grieving?
  • What activities should nurses engage in to reduce the risk of maladaptive grieving?

"@context": "",
"@type": "FAQPage",
"mainEntity": [{
"@type": "Question",
"name": "What is maladaptive grieving?",
"acceptedAnswer": {
"@type": "Answer",
"text": "Maladaptive grieving is a form of grief that fails to resolve itself appropriately or causes harm to an individual’s physical and mental health."
}, {
"@type": "Question",
"name": "What are the risk factors for maladaptive grieving?",
"acceptedAnswer": {
"@type": "Answer",
"text": "Risk factors for developing maladaptive grieving include previous loss, significant attachment to the lost person, inability to face reality, and social isolation."
}, {
"@type": "Question",
"name": "Who is most at risk for developing maladaptive grieving?",
"acceptedAnswer": {
"@type": "Answer",
"text": "Seniors, children, and those suffering from mental illness are most at risk for developing maladaptive grieving."
}, {
"@type": "Question",
"name": "What are the associated conditions of maladaptive grieving?",
"acceptedAnswer": {
"@type": "Answer",
"text": "The associated conditions of maladaptive grieving include depression, substance abuse, and physical illness."
}, {
"@type": "Question",
"name": "What activities should nurses engage in to reduce the risk of maladaptive grieving?",
"acceptedAnswer": {
"@type": "Answer",
"text": "Activities nurses can do to reduce the risk of maladaptive grieving include administration of questionnaires, debriefing, identification of potential resources, monitoring of emotional states, and facilitation of healthy habits."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go up