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Bereavement services should cater to families
Although bereavement services are an integral part of hospice programs, not all services are viewed as beneficial to family members included in a study described in a recent issue of the Journal of Palliative Medicine.1
Spouses of former hospice patients of three Florida hospices were included in the study. Demographics, depressive symptoms, social network, service utilization, barriers, and preferences for content, structure, and delivery of bereavement services were assessed.
Nearly half of the bereaved spouses used at least one type of specialized professional bereavement intervention. The most frequently used services were provided by clergy members and physicians. Individual and spiritually based services were highly endorsed by clients.
One-third of bereaved spouses in the study reported that services did not fit their needs or interests. Clients with weaker social networks were associated with a preference for more intense services.
The authors conclude that hospices can facilitate improved coping by routinely screening caregivers for depressive symptoms and weak social network. Hospice personnel can tailor bereavement interventions to address clients' specific needs.
1. Bergman EJ, Haley WE. Depressive symptoms, social network, and bereavement service utilization and preferences among spouses of former hospice patients. J Palliat Med 2009; 12:170-176.