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Palliat Support Care. 2007 Dec;5(4):397-404.

Bereaved spouses' adjustment after the patients' death in palliative care.

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Department of Public Health and Caring Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.



To improve the support to bereaved spouses during the year after the patient's death, a project was started consisting of three visits by a nurse (after 1, 3, and 13 months) with conversations about the patient's death and the spouse's life situation. The aim of this study was to describe the bereaved spouse's situation and adaptation during the first year after the loss.


Spouses of patients cared for by The Advanced Home Care Team (APHCT) in Uppsala, Sweden, were invited to participate in the project. Each participant was encouraged to talk freely about his or her situation, but enough direction was given to ensure that all items listed on a standardized questionnaire were covered.


Fifty-one spouses met the inclusion criteria and were invited to participate and 45 accepted. The subjects felt quite healthy but were tired and suffered from sleep disturbance. The grief reactions had initially been high but showed a significant decline from 1 to 13 months (p < .01). Forty-nine percent had experienced postbereavement hallucinations.


This study showed that the bereaved spouses felt quite healthy and adjusted quite well to their new life situation, after the patient's death in a palliative care setting. The grief reactions had initially been high but showed a significant decline during the year.

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