Title

Helping parents live with the hole in their heart: The role of health care providers and institutions in the bereaved parents' grief journeys

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Bereaved parents experience significant psychosocial and health sequelae, suggesting that this population may benefit from the ongoing extension of support and resources throughout the grief journey. The interaction of hospital staff with patients and families at the end of a child's life and after death profoundly affects parental grief, offering a unique opportunity for the medical community to positively impact the bereavement experience. The current study was conducted to explore the role of the health care team and medical institutions in the grief journeys of parents whose child died a cancer-related death. METHODS: Eleven bereaved parents participated in 2 focus groups. Responses to each of the 3 main prompts were coded and analyzed independently using semantic content analysis techniques. RESULTS: Four main concepts were identified within the parental narratives, including the importance of strong and ongoing relationships between providers and bereaved families, the importance of high-quality communication, the effect of negative experiences between providers and families on parental grief, and the importance of the institution's role in the grief journeys of bereaved parents. CONCLUSIONS: Bereaved parents consistently identified the critical role played by medical staff and medical institutions throughout the grief journey. Key components of bereavement support identified by parents should serve to guide the actions of providers as well as provide a template for the development of a comprehensive bereavement program within an institution. Cancer 2016. © 2016 American Cancer Society. Cancer 2016;122:2757-2765. © 2016 American Cancer Society.

Publication Title

Cancer

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