After-death interviews with surrogates/bereaved family members: some issues of validity

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2001 Sep;22(3):784-90. doi: 10.1016/s0885-3924(01)00330-x.


After-death interviews with bereaved respondents are an important tool in the repertoire of researchers evaluating the quality of end-of-life care or investigating the experiences of people at the end of life. Despite the importance of after-death interviews to our understanding of the last months of life, the validity of the information gathered has received little attention. In this article, we review some of the available information, drawing on evidence from cognitive psychology as well as from palliative care studies. Findings from cognitive psychology indicate that memory is a dynamic process, influenced by emotion state and the individual's perspective at the time of the event and at recall. Further research is therefore needed to understand better the circumstances, types of information and research questions for which bereaved relatives are valid surrogates for people who have died.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bereavement*
  • Death*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / standards*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Terminal Care / standards