Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Graduate Nursing


Each year thousands of infants die. Internationally, the United States ranks 25th in infant mortality. Parents who have experienced the death of a child have reported this as one of the most tragic experiences they must face. Parents are left to grieve alone: because society often does not recognize the death of a child, particularly an infant as being significant. Failure of nurses and clergy members to understand the needs of bereaved parents may restrict parents from adapting to the death of their child. The purpose of this study was to compare reported needs of bereaved parents with nurses' and clergy members' perceptions of bereaved parents' needs. A descriptive, comparative research study design was used to identify the grief needs of bereaved parents and to explore parental grief needs perceived by nurses and clergy members in a northern plains state. A nonprobability sample of 27 bereaved parents, both mothers and fathers, 100 nurses, and ten clergy members participated in this study. The participants rated the importance of grief needs on the modified Critical Care Family Needs Inventory (Molter & Leske, 1983) questionnaire. These grief needs were described in six subscales, communication, environmental, emotional support, relationship with baby, relationship with family and staff, and spiritual. The findings indicated nurses perceived all of the subscales to be at a higher level of importance than the rest of the populations studied. Nurses and 1nothers responded similarly on several individual statements, while fathers and clergy members responded similarly to several individual statements validating literature that indicates differences among men and women. The differences between genders were evident, specifically in the communication and emotional support subscales. The findings for clergy members indicated that this population placed a higher level of importance on the emotional support subscale; ironically, the spiritual subscale was rated between important to very important which was comparable to the other populations studied. T -tests were calculated on each of the subscales to determine if nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit rated the importance of grief needs of bereaved parents differently from the remaining nursing population. There was no significant difference. Another t-test was calculated to determine if there was a significant difference in the perceptions of nurses who had received grief education and those nurses who had no grief education. Again, there was no significant difference in the findings.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Bereavement -- Psychological aspects Children -- Death -- Psychological aspects Parents -- Attitudes Nurses -- Attitudes Clergy -- Attitudes



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University