The experiences and needs of healthcare professionals facing perinatal death: A scoping review


The experiences and needs of healthcare professionals facing perinatal death: A scoping review


Shorey S; Andre B; Lopez V


International Journal Of Nursing Studies




Health Services Needs and Demand; Stillbirth; experiences; Female; healthcare professionals; Health Personnel/ psychology; Humans; Maternal Health Services/ manpower; Maternity care; Needs; Perinatal Death; Pregnancy; Scoping review


BACKGROUND: Globally, perinatal death is on a decline. However, its impact on the healthcare profession is huge. The existing literature focuses on examining perinatal death from parents' perspectives and patient death from the perspectives of nurses and a few doctors in critical care, oncology, and neonatology in the West. Due to the unique setting of maternity units where death is not routinely anticipated, as well as distinctive socio-cultural views surrounding death, there is a need to comprehensively review literature examining the impact of perinatal death on the perspectives of healthcare professionals working in maternity units. OBJECTIVES: To examine available literature on the needs and experiences of healthcare professionals working in maternity units who have experienced perinatal death. DESIGN: A scoping review of published and unpublished data. DATA SOURCES: A systematic literature search from 1st January 1996 to 5th August 2016 was made in the following databases: PubMed, CINAHL, Embase, PsycINFO, ScienceDirect, and Web of Science. Cochrane Library, Joanna Briggs Institute Library of Systematic Reviews, York Centre for Reviews and Dissemination, Open Grey, ProQuest Dissertation and Theses, and Mednar were reviewed for grey literature. A hand search of the reference lists of the included papers was performed. REVIEW METHODS: Based on the pre-set inclusion criteria, 1519 articles were screened for their titles and abstracts. Eighty-five full-text papers were reviewed, resulting in 30 papers included for this review. The data were extracted and cross-checked between the reviewers. Any discrepancy between the authors' views would be discussed with a third reviewer until consensus was reached. Thematic analysis was used to categorise the results into themes. RESULTS: Two major themes emerged from the review: the experiences and needs of healthcare professionals. Six subthemes emerged from the experiences of healthcare professionals: 1) psychological impact, 2) physical impact, 3) positive feelings, 4) coping strategies, 5) personal factors influencing the experience, and 6) cultural factors influencing the experience. Three subthemes including 1) social support, 2) training and education, and 3) other needs explained the needs of healthcare professionals. Studies focusing on the experiences and needs of physicians were scarce. CONCLUSIONS: Perinatal death has a profound impact on the psychological and physical wellbeing of healthcare professionals. They have unmet needs that need to be addressed. Though they use internal and external resources to combat their stress, institutional support acknowledging their stress and their needs is essential. Culturally-sensitive education and training are needed to provide support to these professionals.


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February 2018 List



Shorey S; Andre B; Lopez V, “The experiences and needs of healthcare professionals facing perinatal death: A scoping review,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed April 17, 2024,