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Title: Understanding grief following stillbirth
Author: Jones, Helen Crispus
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Stillbirth is a unique and complex bereavement for parents, with the potential to cause considerable psychological distress, and often characterised by feelings of worthlessness and isolation. Despite dramatic changes to the provision of care practices and interventions to support parents over recent decades, there is limited theoretical or clinical evidence to inform psychological understanding and interventions for grief and distress following stillbirth. A systematic review of quantitative studies aimed to explore the effect of interventions designed to reduce parental distress following stillbirth. Twenty-two studies met inclusion criteria. Tentative support was found for providing mementoes of the baby and information regarding aetiology, support group attendance, and cognitive behavioural interventions for parents with clinical levels of distress. Contradictory findings for the impact of contact with the baby prevent clear conclusions regarding the effect of this practice. However, substantial methodological weaknesses were identified in the reviewed literature, and the current evidence base is not considered able to reliably inform care practices and intervention approaches, with further high quality research evidence needed. The second, empirical paper aimed to assess the application of the cognitive behavioural model of complicated grief to women bereaved by stillbirth. A cross-sectional survey design explored the predictive value of cognitive behavioural variables for explaining variance in grief, both independently and after controlling for demographic, obstetric and loss-related factors. Seventy-eight women bereaved by stillbirth within the preceding two years took part. Negative thoughts about the self, threatening interpretations of grief reactions and depressive avoidance strategies significantly predicted higher grief scores, accounting for 81 % of score variance and all remained significant predictors after controlling for relevant demographic, obstetric and loss-related variables. Findings support the application of the cognitive behavioural model of complicated grief to women bereaved by stillbirth.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available