Introduction: Parents that experience the death of a child in the PICU have higher levels of pathologic grief. A follow-up meeting between parents and intensivists may lessen grief; however few studies have examined factors related to who attends these meetings. In this pilot study we aim to distinguish between bereaved parents that attend a follow-up meeting and those that do not.
Hypothesis: We hypothesized that parents of children who died of trauma and had a shorter PICU stay would be more likely to follow-up with an intensivist. We also expected parents who were younger, female, single, lost their only child, had no religious preference, and were from non-rural locations to attend follow-up more often.
Methods: Medical charts were reviewed for 33 children up to 18 years (M=5.8, SD=6.3) who died in the PICU from 6/2011-5/2012. Information included circumstance of death, as well as parent and child demographics. All parents who attended a follow-up meeting were allocated to the meeting cohort, and parents who did not attend, the non-meeting cohort.
Results: The sample of children was primarily male (61%), white (58%), and had non-trauma related deaths (76%). Mean length of stay was 14.6 days (SD=34.9), with a median of 3 days. The majority of parents were female (79%), white (61%), married (52%), and religious (61%), with an average age of 32.6 (SD=7.4). About 30% had lost their only child; 67% had public insurance, and 55% lived in a non-rural location. Parents of kids who died of trauma were less likely to attend a follow-up meeting,?2=3.96, p=.047, however, length of stay was not significant (p=.13). Parent and child demographics were unrelated to whether parents attended a follow-up meeting.
Conclusions: Contrary to expectations, parents of children who died of trauma were less likely to attend a follow-up meeting and length of stay and all other demographic factors were not significantly associated with attendance. It is possible that other variables (e.g., complicated grief, specific intensivist) may better account for meeting attendance. Though this is one of the first studies to examine variables related to follow-up, additional research is needed to develop interventions for this vulnerable group of parents.
(C) 2012 by the Society of Critical Care Medicine and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins