Role of district and community nurses in bereavement care: a qualitative study

Br J Community Nurs. 2015 Oct;20(10):494-501. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2015.20.10.494.


Background: The district nurse is one of the main providers of palliative care, which includes bereavement care. However, previous evidence shows a lack of education and training, as well as time management, as important factors in the delivery of bereavement care.

Aim: This qualitative study aimed to explore the provision of bereavement care from a district nurse's perspective.

Method: Data were collected from five participants using semi-structured interviews, and thematically analysed to produce the findings. The interviews were conducted within the author's and participants' working environments to maintain a professional stance between both parties.

Findings: The results suggest an awareness of bereavement care, but a lack of training and education into the theoretical aspects of the care. Knowing the types and stages of bereavement would be beneficial, both in the delivery and the identification of the most effective time to refer on.

Conclusion: Bereavement care was understood to be part of the district nurse role, but the findings suggest that some nurses get too involved and no end date could be standardised, as each case is dependent on need. More experience of bereavement care and exposure increased awareness to its importance and improved confidence toward its delivery.

Keywords: bereavement; education; interview; palliative care; qualitative research.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bereavement*
  • Community Health Nursing*
  • Education, Nursing
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Nurse's Role*
  • Palliative Medicine / education
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Qualitative Research