The Psycho-social Impact of fatal Child Drowning in Queensland and the Availability and Use of Support

Macintyre (Spinks), Dawn (2014). The Psycho-social Impact of fatal Child Drowning in Queensland and the Availability and Use of Support PhD Thesis, School of Population Health, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2014.424

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Author Macintyre (Spinks), Dawn
Thesis Title The Psycho-social Impact of fatal Child Drowning in Queensland and the Availability and Use of Support
School, Centre or Institute School of Population Health
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2014.424
Publication date 2014-10-17
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status Other
Supervisor Lisa Fitzgerald
Kerrianne Watt
Total pages 279
Language eng
Subjects 1117 Public Health and Health Services
Formatted abstract
This thesis examines the impact of fatal child (0-18 years) drowning in Queensland, Australia, and the supports available to parents following the death of their child. Using a social constructionist qualitative approach, two sets of participants were interviewed: bereaved parents and service providers. The key areas addressed in this research relate to the experiences of parents following their child’s death and the benefits and limitations of community and professional support available to them. Bereavement and bereavement support related to an unintentional child death such as drowning have different elements to other child deaths. There is a dearth of literature that examines optimum support for families who experience a fatal child immersion. Fourteen Queensland parents were interviewed about their experiences following the death of their child, the support services available to and accessed by them, and opportunities for improvement within these services. Seventeen service providers were interviewed about their experiences in dealing with parents of children who had drowned, and the support services offered. Data were thematically analysed. Participants highlighted how life changed forever the day their child drowned. Parents’ emotional, physical and spiritual states were compromised and some parents also experienced negative changes in their financial situation. Recurrent fundamental themes were expressed by participants in relation to their overall wellbeing. These were physical and/or emotional health; their sense of identity and the impact on their identity of their perceived failure as protector for their child, surviving children, and spouse; the nature and importance of ongoing relationships with immediate and extended family, friends and colleagues; the importance of continuing to honour their child; and the impact of their child’s death on work and finances. Service providers described their specific roles in providing services to parents of fatally drowned children, the professional challenges within those roles and the personal impact of providing this service. Themes include: the relevance of the unique geography of Queensland; resource and referral challenges for many organisations; training and education implications; and the impact of bereavement support work on the providers. A consistent finding for both parents and service providers was the limited understanding across the community and professional services regarding the support families require following an unintentional death such as drowning. Attention to improved training and education across community and professional sectors, development of a specialised referral database and further research into school and workplace bereavement policies and procedures were key suggestions. Whilst the child drowning rate is decreasing In Queensland due to a number of intervention strategies, unintentional deaths from drowning continue to occur and impact irreversibly on families. Service providers, like parents, clearly articulated ways to improve available services. This thesis provides insights to offer guidance in improving support for parents following the death of their child due to drowning.
Keyword Grief
Child death

Document type: Thesis
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Created: Wed, 15 Oct 2014, 14:15:40 EST by Dawn Spinks on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service