The current status of bereavement follow-up in hospice and palliative care in Japan

Matsushima, T; Akabayashi, A; Nishitateno, K
March 2002
Palliative Medicine;Mar2002, Vol. 16 Issue 2, p151
Academic Journal
In order to explore the implementation of bereavement care in hospice/palliative care settings in Japan, a self-administered questionnaire was sent to all 54 government-approved hospice/palliative care units (PCUs) in May of 1999 (recovery rate 93%). Results showed that bereavement follow-up is performed in 37 institutes (74%) and memorial cards and services are most frequently provided. Memorial cards are provided mainly by nurses, and memorial services involve many health care professionals as well as volunteers. Religious workers tended to be involved in memorial services and social group meetings. Individually oriented interventions such as telephone contacts, personal visits and personal counselling were reportedly used less often. The need for individual-oriented programmes was recognized, and many institutes were considering the expansion of their programmes to include them. However, the difficulties of implementing such care at hospice/PCUs were also raised. Two socio-cultural factors possibly affecting bereavement care in Japan, namely, the roles of family and religious (Buddhist) ceremonies were discussed. It was pointed out that the spirit of bereavement care may be embodied in existing religious ceremonies. We conclude that it is necessary to develop bereavement care programmes based on common, basic hospice care tenets while making full use of existing local resources and taking into account regional values.


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