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Maternity Healthcare Chaplains and Perinatal Post-Mortem Support and Understanding in the United Kingdom and Ireland: An Exploratory Study

Abstract

Perinatal autopsy rates have declined significantly in recent decades. There is a lack of consensus concerning the potential religious influences for bereaved parents in their decision making process for post-mortem. This online study of British and Irish maternity healthcare chaplains explored their understanding of general and local perinatal post-mortem procedures and their experiences in the support of parents. Participants included Christian, Muslim and non-faith chaplains. No chaplain identified any religious prohibition to perinatal post-mortem. A majority of chaplains reported that they had been asked about post-mortem by parents; only a minority felt adequately prepared. A key recommendation is that following appropriate training chaplains may be well placed to support colleagues and parents during the decision making process.

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Correspondence to D. Nuzum.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. No funding was received for this study.

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This study was performed in line with the principles of the Declaration of HELSINKI. Ethical approval for this study was granted by the Clinical Research Ethics Committee of the Cork Teaching Hospitals (Ref. No: ECM 4 (a) 07/03/18).

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Nuzum, D., Fitzgerald, B., Evans, M.J. et al. Maternity Healthcare Chaplains and Perinatal Post-Mortem Support and Understanding in the United Kingdom and Ireland: An Exploratory Study. J Relig Health 60, 1924–1936 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-020-01176-4

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Keywords

  • Post-mortem
  • Autopsy
  • Chaplaincy
  • Bereavement
  • Stillbirth
  • Perinatal