The impacts and effectiveness of support for people bereaved through advanced illness: A systematic review and thematic synthesis


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This episode features Dr Emily Harrop (Marie Curie Research Centre, Division of Population Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK).

The support needs of people experiencing bereavement vary significantly. Bereavement support in palliative care involves different types and levels of provision to accommodate these needs. Specialist grief therapy is known to be effective for those with high-level risk and needs. Bereavement interventions were wide ranging and included bereavement support and social groups, psychological and counselling interventions and other types of support such as arts-based, befriending and relaxation interventions. Good quality randomised controlled trial evidence was only available for targeted family therapy and a non-targeted group–based therapy intervention, both of which were introduced during the caregiving period and found to be partially effective. The synthesis of qualitative evidence identified three core impacts which were common across interventions: ‘loss and grief resolution’, ‘sense of mastery and moving ahead’ and ‘social support’. The qualitative evidence suggests the value of peer support alongside opportunities for reflection, emotional expression and restoration-focused activities for those with moderate-level needs. These findings suggest the relevance of resilience and public health–based approaches to bereavement care. Full paper available from:

If you would like to record a podcast about your published (or accepted) Palliative Medicine paper, please contact Dr Amara Nwosu:

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