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Palliat Med. 2010 Jan;24(1):46-59. doi: 10.1177/0269216309107013. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

Bereavement needs assessment in specialist palliative care: a review of the literature.

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  • 1Marie Curie Cancer Care, Belfast, Northern Ireland. audrey.agnew@mariecurie.org.uk


Bereavement needs assessment for specialist palliative care services has been highlighted as important by NICE guidance on palliative care for adults with cancer. Identifying and implementing appropriate bereavement measurement tools has remained a challenge. This paper identifies and reviews bereavement measurement tools to determine their suitability for use within bereavement services and hospice settings. Cochrane, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and CINAHL, electronic databases were searched, yielding 486 papers. From fifty-nine full text papers appraised, 10 measurement tools were analysed in detail. Some tools had been tested on specific populations which limited transferability to specialist palliative care settings; some lacked adequate theoretical links and were not effective in discriminating between normal and complicated grief reactions; and some lacked clear evidence of validity or reliability. Based on these criteria, conclusions are drawn about the suitability of particular tools for UK bereavement services and hospice settings where intervention is delivered by both trained professionals and volunteers.

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