Women's Experience of Perinatal Loss: A Collaboration to Develop a Learning Resource for Nurses

Friday, 28 July 2017

Gerri C. Lasiuk, PhD1
Susan E. Fowler-Kerry, PhD2
Angela Bowen, PhD2
Carla M. Ransom, MN, BScN3
Wendi N. Stumborg, BScN2
(1)College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Regina, SK, Canada
(2)College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada
(3)University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada


The death of an infant is a profound and devastating experience for women and families. Nurses who work in emergency departments; obstetric, neonatal, and pediatric units; and in public health settings are likely to encounter women who experience a miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant death. These nurses are responsible to address women’s physical, psychosocial, and instrumental needs, however the existing research suggests that many feel ill prepared to do so and there is limited research evidence to guide nurses on how to best do this. Our purpose is to collaborate with women to describe their experience of perinatal infant loss and develop a learning resource to help nurses effectively support bereavement.


Purposive sampling will be used to recruit 10-12 English-speaking women who have experienced perinatal infant death, in hospital, during the previous two years and provide informed consent. In phase I of the study, women will be interviewed about their experience of perinatal infant death. The interviews will be recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for themes using Interpretive Description. Phase 2 of the study will employ photovoice, a participatory action method, which invites participants to collaborate with researchers to document significant aspects of their everyday lives in photographs and descriptive texts. Participants and researchers will meet five times as a group to discuss and refine the themes identified in the interviews; take photographs that reflect the themes; and write about the meaning of the photographs. Through consensus, the group will then select photographs and textual descriptions to develop a learning resource for nurses.


Athough the she study is ongoing, it is clear tha women who have experienced the loss of an infant can offer a unique perspective on the experience of perinatal loss and bereavement.


Targeted efforts to educate nurses about these experiences will help them to provide compassionate and competent care.