Kathrine Grovn Nissen defends her PhD thesis at the Department of Psychology – University of Copenhagen

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Kathrine Grovn Nissen defends her PhD thesis at the Department of Psychology


Kathrine Grovn Nissen


Vi er sammen om døden. Relationelle aspekter af psykologisk belastning, psykosocial funktion og psykosociale interventioner i en population af alvorligt syge kræftpatienter og deres pårørende". The Thesis will be available for reading at the Library of Social Science, Gothersgade 140, 1353 Copenhagen K.

Time and venue

Tuesday 30 May 2017 at 13:00. University of Copenhagen, Faculty Library of Social Science, aud. 1., Gothersgade 140, 1353 Copenhagen K. Kindly note that the defense will start precisely at the  announced time.

Assessment committee

  • Associate professor Helmer Bøving Larsen, Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen (chair)
  • Professor Helle Timm, University of Southern Denmark
  • Associate professor Inger Utne, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences


This PhD study investigates relational aspects of psychological distress, psychosocial functioning, and psychosocial interventions in relation to advanced cancer patients and their caregivers.

Through analysis of the association between self-rated attachment, family types and psychological distress and psychosocial function the study shows how higher levels of self-rated insecure attachment, together with higher levels of dysfunctional family types, are significantly associated with higher levels of psychological distress and lower levels of psychosocial functioning. Analysis of a therapeutic course shows that age-mismatch between a young psychologist and an elderly cancer caregiver causes a rupture to the therapeutic alliance. However, existential-phenomenological method enables the therapist for overcoming age-related challenges to the alliance.

Clinicians’ awareness of attachment style and family type may serve as an important clinical insight to improving treatment outcome in oncology and palliative care settings. Furthermore, it may be important to be aware of how, among young clinicians dealing with death experience, age influences the therapeutic alliance. Research is needed that validate attachment- and family-related measures in large scale studies in Denmark. Furthermore, research is needed that explores whether age-mismatch represents a general barrier to the therapeutic alliance.