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Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2008 Oct;13(5):341-56. doi: 10.1016/j.siny.2008.03.011. Epub 2008 Jun 2.

Effectiveness of bereavement interventions in neonatal intensive care: a review of the evidence.

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  • 1Medical Statistics Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, UK.


The provision of bereavement care is an important part of neonatal intensive care. This systematic review of the effectiveness of interventions to support families and facilitate emotional adjustment following the death of a baby suggests that, while these are largely appreciated by parents who have participated in research, there has been little rigorous evaluation of their effectiveness. This review reflects on possible reasons for this; for example: NICU-led bereavement care is changing, the effectiveness of bereavement care is difficult to measure, concepts of effectiveness are not static, and ethical concerns complicate experimental research. Bereavement interventions are compassion-led and generally considered to be beneficial. New research questions and new methodological challenges are discussed with reference to two examples of evolving practice: bereavement photography and the use of ritual. Future research using innovative and sensitive RCTs and consensus amongst relevant stakeholders is suggested.

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