Clinical practice guidelines for respectful and supportive perinatal bereavement care: A view from Australia

Clinical practice guidelines for respectful and supportive perinatal bereavement care: A view from Australia

Authors: Frances M. Boyle1,2 Dell Horey1,3 Philippa Middleton1,4 Vicki Flenady1 for the Perinatal Bereavement Care Guideline Update Group

1 Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth, Mater Research Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 2 Institute for Social Science Research, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, 3 La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, 4 South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide, Australia.

Background:
High quality perinatal bereavement care is critical for women and families following stillbirth or newborn death. Clinical practice guidelines that are based on a systematic review of evidence are important to optimising care for parents and guidelines have been developed in a number of countries. In 2019, the Perinatal Society of Australia and New Zealand (PSANZ) and the Australian Centre of Research Excellence in Stillbirth developed an updated guideline to assist health care professionals to deliver Respectful and Supportive Perinatal Bereavement Care.

Methods:
Review of published research, including recent systematic reviews, combined with an extensive consultation process to incorporate insights and experience from a large multidisciplinary guideline update group representing parent organisations, clinicians, policy makers and researchers.

Results:
Perinatal bereavement care involves a broad scope of practice. An organising framework was developed to map practices according to five core goals of care: Good Communication; Recognition of Parenthood; Shared Decision-making; Effective Support; and Organisational Response. These goals of care drive the Guideline for Respectful and Supportive Perinatal Bereavement Care, which contains 49 recommendations of which 41 are for individual practitioners and 8 are for maternity care facilities.

Conclusion:
Stakeholder engagement, best available research, parents’ lived experiences and maternity care providers’ insights have resulted in a guideline that consists of implementable recommendations to address the needs of bereaved parents in the Australian setting. Areas for further research have been identified.

Ethics statement:
Ethics approval was not required as the study involved the review of information that was freely available in the public domain

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