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Men's grief following pregnancy loss and neonatal loss: a systematic review and emerging theoretical model

Journal title
BMC pregnancy and childbirth
Publication year
Obst, K. L.; Due, C.; Oxlad, M.; Middleton, P.

BACKGROUND: Emotional distress following pregnancy loss and neonatal loss is common, with enduring grief occurring for many parents. However, little is known about men's grief, since the majority of existing literature and subsequent bereavement care guidelines have focused on women. To develop a comprehensive understanding of men's grief, this systematic review sought to summarise and appraise the literature focusing on men's grief following pregnancy loss and neonatal loss. METHODS: A systematic review was undertaken with searches completed across four databases (PubMed, PsycINFO, Embase, and CINAHL). These were guided by two research questions: 1) what are men's experiences of grief following pregnancy/neonatal loss; and 2) what are the predictors of men's grief following pregnancy/neonatal loss? Eligible articles were qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods empirical studies including primary data on men's grief, published between 1998 and October 2018. Eligibility for loss type included miscarriage or stillbirth (by any definition), termination of pregnancy for nonviable foetal anomaly, and neonatal death up to 28?days after a live birth. RESULTS: A final sample of 46 articles were identified, including 26 qualitative, 19 quantitative, and one mixed methods paper. Findings indicate that men's grief experiences are highly varied, and current grief measures may not capture all of the complexities of grief for men. Qualitative studies identified that in comparison to women, men may face different challenges including expectations to support female partners, and a lack of social recognition for their grief and subsequent needs. Men may face double-disenfranchised grief in relation to the pregnancy/neonatal loss experience. CONCLUSION: There is a need to increase the accessibility of support services for men following pregnancy/neonatal loss, and to provide recognition and validation of their experiences of grief. Cohort studies are required among varied groups of bereaved men to confirm grief-predictor relationships, and to refine an emerging socio-ecological model of men's grief. TRIALS REGISTRATION: PROSPERO registration number: CRD42018103981.

Research abstracts