Bereaved Parents' Health Status During the First 6 Months After Their Child's Death.Am J Hosp Palliat Care 2018; 35(6):829-839AJ
To examine bereaved parents' physical, mental, and social health during the first 6 months after their child's (<12 years) death from a life-threatening illness.
BACKGROUND AND SIGNIFICANCE
Bereaved parents have higher mortality and morbidity rates when compared to nonbereaved parents. Acute illnesses, hospitalizations, and medication changes are highest in the first 6 months. An understanding of bereaved parents' health risk indicators can help inform development of health promotion and disease prevention measures. Methods and Analysis: A prospective descriptive study examined 8 parent dyads. Parents completed health surveys (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System-global, social, and sleep; Brief Symptom Inventory [BSI] 18), which are used to assess parents' health at 3 and 6 months after their child's death. Demographic data included a medical history, hospital or emergency department visits, and smoking and alcohol intake. Descriptive statistics were used to compare parents' scores to US general population scores.
Mothers' and fathers' physical, mental, and sleep health scores were typically within 1 to 2 standard deviations of the population norms. However, their social health scores were as low as 3 standard deviations and all parents' scores were below population norms. Four (25%) of the 16 parents had new diagnosis during the first 6 months. Based on the BSI-18, 3 parents had their scores above population cutoffs, which warranted a need for further clinical evaluation.
Health data highlight the "at-risk" health status of bereaved parents. Further validation of these data is required to support the development of health promotion and disease prevention programs.