Supporting parents following pregnancy loss: A cross-sectional study of telephone peer supporters

Boyle, Frances M., Mutch, Allyson J., Barber, Elizabeth A., Carroll, Christine and Dean, Julie H. (2015) Supporting parents following pregnancy loss: A cross-sectional study of telephone peer supporters. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 15 1: 291.1-291.10. doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0713-y

Author Boyle, Frances M.
Mutch, Allyson J.
Barber, Elizabeth A.
Carroll, Christine
Dean, Julie H.
Title Supporting parents following pregnancy loss: A cross-sectional study of telephone peer supporters
Journal name BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-2393
Publication date 2015-11-09
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/s12884-015-0713-y
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 15
Issue 1
Start page 291.1
End page 291.10
Total pages 10
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The death of a baby before or soon after birth can place an enormous psychological toll on parents. Parent support groups have grown in response to bereaved parents’ unmet needs for support. Peer support is the hallmark of these organisations but little is known about the experiences of volunteers who provide support. This study examines the perceptions and experiences of parent support group volunteers who deliver a 24-h telephone support service for the Australian Stillbirth and Newborn Death Support (Sands) organisation in order to inform the ongoing development and sustainability of effective peer support. This parent-led organisation has delivered support to those affected by miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death for more than 30 years.

Twenty-four Parent Supporters completed an online questionnaire. A mix of open- and closed questions asked about aspects of the Parent Supporter role. Quantitative data was summarised using descriptive statistics. Free-text responses to open-ended items were categorised and used to extend and illustrate the quantitative findings.

Our findings reveal a group of highly dedicated and experienced volunteers who had taken 473 calls in the preceding 12 months. Calls were diverse but most were from bereaved mothers seeking ‘to talk with someone who understands’ in the early weeks and months after stillbirth or miscarriage. Most Parent Supporters indicated they felt well-prepared, confident, and satisfied in their role. Challenges include balancing the demands of the role and ongoing training and support.

Peer volunteers contribute to addressing a significant need for support following pregnancy loss. Delivering and sustaining high quality parent-led support depends on volunteer recruitment and retention and this, in turn, requires organisational responses.
Keyword Bereavement
Consumer organisations
Peer support
Perinatal death
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
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