Perinatal loss: the provider's perspective

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Takeaway

  • Perinatal loss has a significant, but largely unacknowledged effect on healthcare providers. 

Why this matters

  • Studies of the effects of perinatal death are mainly focused on the patient.
  • Healthcare professionals that experience perinatal death report emotional stress, posttraumatic stress disorder, and burnout.
  • Healthcare professionals may have unmet needs from experience with perinatal death.

Key results

  • 2 main themes and 8 subthemes identified.
  • Healthcare professionals reported that dealing with perinatal loss was stressful and emotional, they often felt ill-prepared, guilty, overwhelmed, and burnt out.
  • Lack of experience increased negative feelings.
  • Healthcare professionals experienced physical symptoms including headaches, fatigue, and irritability.
  • Coping strategies included talking with friends or colleagues, exercising, praying, journaling, and focusing on the task.
  • Coping strategies were dependent upon cultural background.
  • Healthcare professionals expressed the need for formal training in communication, personal counseling, legitimizing the emotional vulnerability of staff dealing with perinatal loss, and policies to provide culturally specific care.

Study design

  • Systematic literature review of studies on perinatal loss.
  • 30 articles included in the final analysis.
  • Thematic analysis used to identify emerging themes.
  • Funding: None.

Limitations

  • Studies addressing this issue are scarce.
  • Only English language studies included.