Each year, too many parents must face the horrific ordeal of having to prepare for the death of their child; thought to be the most traumatic event in the life of an adult (Widger & Picot, 2008). It is in the desperate hours just prior to death that these parents, for many reasons, reach out for support to the medical staff around them. This process, particularly if negative, can leave scars that parents will carry for a lifetime (N. Contro, Larson, Scofield, Sourkes, & Cohen, 2002; Tinsley, et al., 2008). However, there appear to be factors that serve to lessen the negativity of this time (Gerretsen & Myers, 2008; Tan, Zimmermann, & Rodin, 2005). Thirteen families agreed to participate, in this study, from several hospitals, each family having lost a child within the past year. Qualitative analyses of interviews with these families indicated that themes of communication, availability, and empathy were important in relation to the physician. Themes detrimental to the relationship with the physician included communication brevity and carelessness. Additionally, results suggested that these themes exist in an additive hierarchy, with no one theme ensuring the viability or destruction of the relationship, instead serving to buffer positive and negative influence. Recommendations for future research include evaluation of the manner in which these themes impact each other, and ultimately the relationship.
School of Science and Technology
Riggs, Matt L.
Tinsley, Cynthia H.
Williams, Gerald A.
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Terminally ill - Family Relationships; Families - Medical care - Psychological Aspects; Communication; Medicine and psychology; Parents - Psychology; Bereavement - Psychological aspects; Children - Death - Psychological Aspects; Loss (Psychology)
Subject - Local
Death of child; Traumatic events; Physician - Parent Communication; Empathy; Physician Availability
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Gleason, Peter Christopher, "Parental Grief and Loss and the medical Staff Relationship: a Function of Attachment" (2011). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 32.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses & Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives