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Obstetric & Gynaecology in-patient staff responses to miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss experienced by their patients.

By Sonya Wallbank


The full text of this thesis is not currently available on the LRA. The print version can be consulted at the University of Leicester Library.Background: Miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death are not uncommon events within the United Kingdom. There is substantial evidence that parents experience such loss as intensely painful (Gold, 2007) yet there appears to be little recognition\ud of the potential impact on those staff providing care, and indeed encouragement for staff to be emotionally giving to and congruent with the family (Kohner, 2007). The emotive nature of the work would appear to suggest that dealing with such losses would have a personal impact on the staff member involved. Understanding the potential impact of the work they do, can enable the promotion of self-care for staff, thus enhancing the optimal care of patients (Curtis et al., 2005). Research undertaken mainly by staff working within these settings has considered the nature of staff response to professional loss. This paper will review this literature to consider what is currently known about how staff respond.\ud Aim: To explore what is known about the psychological responses of staff to\ud miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss in their workplace.\ud Method: A systematic narrative synthesis of qualitative literature exploring staff\ud responses to miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal loss was undertaken. The principles of transparency and systematicity (Meyrick, 2006) were used to analyse the literature, and content analysis was used to elicit themes from the literature.\ud Conclusion: Despite finding underdeveloped theoretical and conceptual frameworks to\ud understand staff experiences, evidence suggests that midwives and nurses appear to experience significant and personal adverse effects as a result of caring for families experiencing loss. These can manifest as physical, emotional and psychological difficulties. Staff regard the support they have for this type of work as lacking. Where collegial support is positive, staff feel more able to cope, however; this type of support alone does not appear to protect\ud staff from the adverse effects. The need to provide empathetic interactions is demanding for staff and appears to conflict with their need to protect themselves emotionally, for example by withdrawing from the family. Further research on phenomenology and more explicit use of current psychological models to understand staff distress is warranted

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2008
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