Bereavement care in Japanese pediatrics: Pediatrician awareness in practice

Ayaka Fujita, Yuko Hamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A child's death affects not only family members but also the health-care professionals involved in patient care. The education system for bereavement care in Japan, however, is not set up in a systematic way, and the care provided is based on the individual experience of the health-care professional. The aim of this study was to investigate pediatrician awareness of and actual circumstances involved in bereavement care in Japan. Methods: A qualitative descriptive study was conducted at four facilities in Japan. Data collected using semi-structured interviews of 11 pediatricians were assessed using inductive qualitative analysis. Results: Pediatrician recognition of the elements of bereavement care was categorized as follows: (i) developing relationships with families before a child's death is important in bereavement care; (ii) after the child dies, family involvement is left to the doctor's discretion; (iii) coping with a child's death myself through past experience is essential; (iv) doctors involved in a child's death also experience mental burden; and (v) a system for the family's bereavement care must be established. Two categories were established according to actual circumstances involved in bereavement care: (i) attention must be given to the emotions of the families who lost a child; and (ii) doctor involvement with bereaved families depends on doctor awareness and expertise. Conclusion: Japanese pediatricians provided bereavement care to families who lost their children in a non-systematic manner. This is necessitates improvement of the self-care of health-care professionals with regard to grief by improving bereavement care-related education. Additionally, health-care professionals must be trained, and a national-level provision system must be established to provide high-quality bereavement care to families who lose a child.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)658-663
Number of pages6
JournalPediatrics International
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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