Aims and objectives: To investigate nurses' roles and responsibilities in providing bereavement care during the care of dying patients within acute care hospitals. Background: Bereavement within acute care hospitals is often sudden, unexpected and managed by nurses who may have limited access to experts. Nurses' roles and experience in the provision of bereavement care can have a significant influence on the subsequent bereavement process for families. Identifying the roles and responsibilities, nurses have in bereavement care will enhance bereavement supports within acute care environments. Design: Mixed-methods systematic review. Methods: The review was conducted using the databases Cumulative Index Nursing and Allied Health Literature Plus, Embase, Ovid MEDLINE, PsychINFO, CareSearch and Google Scholar. Included studies published between 2006-2015, identified nurse participants, and the studies were conducted in acute care hospitals. Seven studies met the inclusion criteria, and the research results were extracted and subjected to thematic synthesis. Results: Nurses' role in bereavement care included patient-centred care, family-centred care, advocacy and professional development. Concerns about bereavement roles included competing clinical workload demands, limitations of physical environments in acute care hospitals and the need for further education in bereavement care. Conclusions: Further research is needed to enable more detailed clarification of the roles nurse undertake in bereavement care in acute care hospitals. There is also a need to evaluate the effectiveness of these nursing roles and how these provisions impact on the bereavement process of patients and families. Relevance to clinical practice: The care provided by acute care nurses to patients and families during end-of-life care is crucial to bereavement. The bereavement roles nurses undertake are not well understood with limited evidence of how these roles are measured. Further education in bereavement care is needed for acute care nurses.
- acute care