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Hospital-based bereavement care provision: a cross-sectional survey with health professionals


Naef, Rahel; Peng-Keller, Simon; Rettke, Horst; Rufer, Michael; Petry, Heidi (2020). Hospital-based bereavement care provision: a cross-sectional survey with health professionals. Palliative Medicine, 34(4):547-552.

Abstract

An in-hospital death is a profound experience for those left behind and has been associated with family members’ psychological morbidity. Supporting bereaved family members is an essential part of end-of-life care and includes attentive presence, information-giving, and emotional and practical support. The actual adoption of hospital-based bereavement care, however, remains little understood. </jats:sec><jats:sec>Aim: To investigate hospital-based bereavement care provision and associated barriers. </jats:sec><jats:sec>Design: Cross-sectional survey using an online questionnaire. </jats:sec><jats:sec>Setting/participants: Health professionals ( n = 196) from two University-affiliated acute and psychiatric hospitals in Switzerland. </jats:sec><jats:sec>Results: The most frequent bereavement services (⩾40%) were viewing the deceased, giving information on available support, and making referrals; the most often named barriers were lack of time and organizational support. Acute care health professionals faced statistically significant more structural barriers (55.1% vs 21.4% lack of time, 47.8% vs 25.9% lack of organizational support) and felt insufficiently trained (38.4% vs 20.7%) compared to mental health professionals ( p ⩽ 0.05). Nurses provided more immediate services compared to physicians, such as viewing the deceased (71.3% vs 49.0%) and sending sympathy cards (37.4% vs 16.3%) ( p ⩽ 0.01). In contrast, physicians screened more often for complex bereavement disorders (10.2% vs 2.6%) and appraised bereavement care as beyond their role (26.5% vs 7.8%) ( p ⩽ 0.05). </jats:sec><jats:sec>Conclusion: The study indicates that many barriers to bereavement care exist in hospitals. More research is required to better understand enabling and limiting factors to bereavement care provision. A guideline-driven approach to hospital-based bereavement care that defines best practice and required organizational support seems necessary to ensure needs-based bereavement care.

Abstract

An in-hospital death is a profound experience for those left behind and has been associated with family members’ psychological morbidity. Supporting bereaved family members is an essential part of end-of-life care and includes attentive presence, information-giving, and emotional and practical support. The actual adoption of hospital-based bereavement care, however, remains little understood. </jats:sec><jats:sec>Aim: To investigate hospital-based bereavement care provision and associated barriers. </jats:sec><jats:sec>Design: Cross-sectional survey using an online questionnaire. </jats:sec><jats:sec>Setting/participants: Health professionals ( n = 196) from two University-affiliated acute and psychiatric hospitals in Switzerland. </jats:sec><jats:sec>Results: The most frequent bereavement services (⩾40%) were viewing the deceased, giving information on available support, and making referrals; the most often named barriers were lack of time and organizational support. Acute care health professionals faced statistically significant more structural barriers (55.1% vs 21.4% lack of time, 47.8% vs 25.9% lack of organizational support) and felt insufficiently trained (38.4% vs 20.7%) compared to mental health professionals ( p ⩽ 0.05). Nurses provided more immediate services compared to physicians, such as viewing the deceased (71.3% vs 49.0%) and sending sympathy cards (37.4% vs 16.3%) ( p ⩽ 0.01). In contrast, physicians screened more often for complex bereavement disorders (10.2% vs 2.6%) and appraised bereavement care as beyond their role (26.5% vs 7.8%) ( p ⩽ 0.05). </jats:sec><jats:sec>Conclusion: The study indicates that many barriers to bereavement care exist in hospitals. More research is required to better understand enabling and limiting factors to bereavement care provision. A guideline-driven approach to hospital-based bereavement care that defines best practice and required organizational support seems necessary to ensure needs-based bereavement care.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Psychiatric University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, and Psychosomatics
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
Uncontrolled Keywords:Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, General Medicine, Bereavement care; delivery of health care; hospitals; professional–family relations; surveys and questionnaires
Language:English
Date:1 April 2020
Deposited On:03 Feb 2020 16:57
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 13:17
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0269-2163
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0269216319891070

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