Bereavement Services Offered in Adult Intensive Care Units in the United States

Jennifer L. McAdam, Alyssa Erikson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background  Losing a loved one in the intensive care unit (ICU) is stressful for family members. Providing bereavement support to them is recommended. However, little is known about the prevalence of bereavement services implemented in adult ICUs.

Objective  To describe current bereavement follow-up services in adult ICUs.

Method  A cross-sectional prospective study design was used. ICU nurse leaders completed a 26-item online survey posted in the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses e-newsletter. The survey contained questions about current practices in bereavement care. Data were collected for 1 month and were analyzed by using descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression.

Results  A total of 237 ICU nurse leaders responded to the survey. Hospital and ICU types were diverse, with most being community (n = 81, 34.2%) and medical (n = 61, 25.7%). Most respondents reported that their ICUs (n = 148, 62.4%) did not offer bereavement follow-up services, and many barriers were noted. When bereavement follow-up care was offered, it was mainly informal (eg, condolence cards, brochures). Multiple logistic regression indicated that ICUs in hospitals with palliative care were almost 8 times (odds ratio, 7.66) more likely to provide bereavement support than were ICUs in hospitals without palliative care.

Conclusions  The study findings provide insight into what type of bereavement evaluation methods are being used, what barriers are present that hinder use of bereavement follow-up services, and potential interventions to overcome those barriers in adult ICUs in the United States.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalAmerican Journal of Critical Care
StatePublished - Mar 2016


  • Nursing
  • Family Medicine
  • Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Critical Care

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