What is it about?

Sudden deaths of babies and children are relatively rare events, which means competence and confidence in dealing with them is hard for those responding to them, including police officers, ambulance staff, and professionals working in the emergency department etc. This paper explores how responders experience these situations, and how they deal with the challenges they face as part of their professional role.

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Why is it important?

The emotional wellbeing of emergency service workers is an increasing concern for employers and organisations who support them. This paper draws on previous studies, creating a meta-synthesis, that expands our understanding of how professionals experience and deal with the emotional challenges of responding to the sudden deaths of babies and children. It identifies a number of factors that define the experience, as well as making recommendations on how responders can be supported. We hope that this increases the support that responders receive, and that this leads to improvements in the support of parents and families of children who die suddenly.


As a palliative care practitioner and exec. board member of Child Death Overview Panels for more than ten years, I frequently heard the challenges faced by responders. This was echoed in some training I delivered to the police around family grief and professional emotional resilience, as an academic. Having the opportunity to work on this project with colleagues from different disciplines and professions was a great experience - the multiprofessional perspectives enhanced our process. I hope this paper leads to discussions around the challenges within responder workforces and means that responders feel more able to discuss the challenges they face, leading to better support for bereaved families. I hope you find this article thought-provoking.

Dr Michael J Tatterton
University of Bradford

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The Role and Experiences of Responders Attending the Sudden or Unexpected Death of a Child: A Systematic Review and Meta-Synthesis, Illness Crisis & Loss, January 2022, SAGE Publications,
DOI: 10.1177/10541373221075300.
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