Background and objectives: This study examined what actions are expected from a family physician by the family members of a deceased patient immediately following the death of the patient.
Methods: Those listed as next of kin on the charts of deceased patients of a suburban family practice residency were asked to complete a questionnaire about their expectations of their family member's family physician after the death.
Results: Expectation of the surveyed actions was surprisingly low, with attendance at the funeral the least expected, followed closely by acknowledgment of the anniversary of the family member's death. Nearly half of the respondents expected a telephone call shortly after the death, while close to one third expected the physician to ask about their emotional well-being at their next visit.
Conclusions: The results suggest that family members do not expect or rarely expect any action from their family member's family physician after the death. However, comments received with the survey indicate that any gesture of sympathy or show of concern from the family physician was greatly appreciated by the survivors.