Hospital-Based Interventions to Address Provider Grief: A Narrative Review

Ronit Yazdan, Kristen Corey, Sylvie J. Messer, Emily H. Kim, Kailey E. Roberts, Peter A. Selwyn, Andrea H. Weinberger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Context: Provider grief, i.e., grief related to the death of patients, often forms an ongoing and profound stressor impacting healthcare providers’ ability to maintain their sense of well-being, avoid feeling overwhelmed, and sustain quality and compassionate patient care over time. Objectives: This narrative review presents findings on the types of interventions hospitals have offered to physicians and nurses to address provider grief. Methods: Searches of PubMed and PsycINFO were conducted for articles (e.g., research studies, program descriptions and evaluations) focused on hospital-based interventions to help physicians and nurses cope with their own grief. Results: Twenty-nine articles met inclusion criteria. The most common adult clinical areas were oncology (n = 6), intensive care (n = 6), and internal medicine (n = 3), while eight articles focused on pediatric settings. Nine articles featured education interventions, including instructional education programs and critical incident debriefing sessions. Twenty articles discussed psychosocial support interventions, including emotional processing debriefing sessions, creative arts interventions, support groups, and retreats. A majority of participants reported that interventions were helpful in facilitating reflection, grieving, closure, stress relief, team cohesion, and improved end-of-life care, yet mixed results were found related to interventions’ effects on reducing provider grief to a statistically significant degree. Conclusion: Providers largely reported benefits from grief-focused interventions, yet research was sparse and evaluation methodologies were heterogenous, making it difficult to generalize findings. Given the known impact provider grief can have on the individual and organizational levels, it is important to expand providers’ access to grief-focused services and to increase evidence-based research in this field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e85-e107
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Grief
  • Nurses
  • Occupational health
  • Patient death
  • Physicians
  • Psychosocial support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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