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Research Article

Support after perinatal death: a study of support and counselling after perinatal bereavement.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982; 285 doi: (Published 20 November 1982) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1982;285:1475
  1. G C Forrest,
  2. E Standish,
  3. J D Baum


    After an earlier study into the practical aspects of the management of perinatal death, a counselling service was introduced for parents whose baby had died in the perinatal period. The service was monitored, and the parents who received the service were compared with a group that did not. Fifty families were allocated randomly either to the counselling (supported) group or to the contrast group, who received routine hospital care. Assessment was carried out at six and 14 months after the death, using a semi-structured interview and two self-rating scales (the general health questionnaire and the Leeds scales). Two of 16 mothers in the supported group showed psychiatric disorder at six months, compared with 10 of 19 in the contrast group (p less than 0.01, Fisher's exact test). There was no significant difference between the two groups at 14 months, when 80% of all the women studied had recovered psychiatric symptoms. Socially isolated women and those who marital relations lacked intimacy had a higher incidence of psychiatric symptoms at six months. Early pregnancy (within six months) was associated with a higher incidence of psychiatric symptoms in the unsupported group. The duration of bereavement reaction after perinatal death was appreciably shortened by support and counselling.