Specialist Nurses Help Grieving Parents Agree to Autopsy

Almost all parents give consent after research- and bereavement-trained nurse contacts them

FRIDAY, Mar. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Bereaved parents are more likely to consent to a request for post-mortem imaging for research purposes if they are approached by a specially trained nurse with experience in family and bereavement counseling, according to a study published online Mar. 12 in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Sudhin Thayyil, M.D., of the University College London Institute of Child Health, London, U.K., and colleagues conducted a study of 76 cases referred to Her Majesty's Coroners, and were granted permission to contact the parents in 32 (42 percent) of the cases.

When the study's research nurse contacted the parents, she was able to obtain consent for a post-mortem MRI for the purposes of research in 31 (96.8 percent) of the cases, the researchers noted. Thirteen parents cited a desire to help other parents in a similar situation as the main reason for consent, while 10 gave no specific reason and four each cited the importance of research and wanting to have as much information as possible, the investigators found.

"Engagement of parents is the key to credible post-mortem research, ensuring that lessons are learnt from the organ retention discussions," the authors write. "The model we have proposed could also potentially be used to allow the creation of post-mortem research tissue banks that could be used to address the continuing issues related to sudden death research."

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