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The bereavement experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* people who have lost a partner: A systematic review, thematic synthesis and modelling of the literature


 

Each month, one article from Palliative Medicine, the EAPC's official research journal, is selected as 'Editor's choice' and the author invited to contribute a short post to the EAPC blog explaining the background to the full article in the journal. This month's 'Editor's choice' is described below with access to the free PDF version.  (You can also read the blog post version here)

Abstract
Background: Socially excluded populations have poorer access to care; however, little attention has been paid to lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* people. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* people are at increased risk of certain life-limiting illnesses and may not receive the care and support they need at the end of life and into bereavement.

Aim: To identify and appraise the evidence of the bereavement experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* people who have lost a partner and develop an explanatory model of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* partner bereavement.

Design: Systematic review (in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines) and thematic synthesis with assessment of reporting and rigour. Quantitative or qualitative articles reporting bereavement experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* partners were included, excluding articles reporting multiple losses in the context of HIV or AIDS.

Data sources: PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus, Cochrane Library. Inclusion dates: database inception – 30 April 2015.

Results: A total of 23 articles reporting on 13 studies were identified. Studies described universal experiences of the pain of losing a partner; however, additional barriers and stressors were reported for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* people, including homophobia, failure to acknowledge the relationship, additional legal and financial issues and the ‘shadow’ of HIV or AIDS. A novel model was developed to explain how the experience for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* people is shaped by whether the relationship was disclosed and acknowledged in life and into bereavement and how this impacts upon needs and access to care.

Conclusion: There is a need for healthcare providers to avoid hetero-normative assumptions; be mindful of additional stressors in bereavement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* people; and consider additional sources of support to deliver individualised holistic care.

Keywords
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, bereavement, death, partner

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Written By: Katherine Bristowe, Steve Marshall and Richard Harding
Published: 10-09-2016


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The bereavement experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or trans* people who have lost a partner: A systematic review, thematic synthesis and modelling of the literature
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