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Int J Palliat Nurs. 2002 Sep;8(9):452-7.

Do interventions make a difference to bereaved parents? A systematic review of controlled studies.

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  • 1University of Glasgow, UK.


The provision of bereavement support for parents who have lost a child is based on the assumption that it will lead to better subsequent adjustment. To determine the validity of this assumption, a systematic review of studies was undertaken, looking at bereavement support programmes for parental grief between 1990 and 2001. This review focused on controlled studies. The exclusion of non-controlled studies, case studies and those using only participant evaluation as an outcome measure, left only three studies. No overall benefit for the interventions was shown. However, for highly distressed mothers, psychological symptoms and marital dysfunction were significantly reduced. Disparities in the findings, such as the effects of interventions on fathers, may be explained by flawed methodology. Applied to practice, these findings suggest that only some bereaved parents benefit from bereavement support programmes. A targeted approach may therefore be the best use of resources.

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