A groundbreaking viewpoint published in The Lancet Public Health on March 13, 2024, led by Dr. Wendy G Lichtenthal and co-authors, highlights the critical need to prioritise bereavement care as a public health imperative.

Desspite the significant morbidity and mortality associated with bereavement, there’s a glaring lack of economic and resource investments at national and global levels to establish and sustain integrated bereavement services. The authors argue that while bereavement support is part of palliative care, continuity of care for the bereaved is often overlooked, leading to a lack of crucial psychosocial support and increased health risks. Moreover, inadequate bereavement care disproportionately affects vulnerable groups. The proposed model advocates for transitional care, embedding bereavement services within health-care institutions while empowering community-based supports. To achieve this, a paradigm shift is needed to prioritise bereavement care as a public health agenda item, requiring collaboration among interprofessional health workers, institutions, and systems.

The public health implications of the research

The research highlights several crucial public health implications:

  1. Recognition of Bereavement as a Public Health Issue: By identifying bereavement as a significant public health concern, the research emphasises the need for policies and interventions to address the psychosocial impacts of loss on individuals and communities.
  2. Need for Integrated Bereavement Services: The study underscores the importance of integrating bereavement care into existing health-care systems. This includes ensuring continuity of care for bereaved individuals, providing access to psychosocial support, and addressing the risk of illnesses associated with unresolved grief.
  3. Health Equity and Vulnerable Groups: The research emphasises that inadequate bereavement care disproportionately affects vulnerable populations, including those in resource-constrained settings. Addressing these disparities requires targeted interventions and support systems tailored to the needs of different communities.
  4. Community-Based Support: The proposed model advocates for bolstering community-based supports and developing compassionate communities to provide ongoing care for the bereaved. This recognises the role of social networks and community resources in facilitating healing and resilience.
  5. Interprofessional Collaboration: To implement effective bereavement care, the study calls for collaboration among various stakeholders, including health workers, institutions, and systems. This underscores the importance of interprofessional teamwork and coordination in delivering comprehensive support to grieving individuals and families.

Overall, the research highlights the multifaceted nature of bereavement as a public health issue and underscores the importance of addressing it through a holistic and integrated approach.

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