Psykologisk Institut

Double bereavement, mental health consequences and support needs of children and young adults ‐ when a divorced parent dies

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


  • Jette Marcussen, Syddansk Universitet, University College Lillebælt, Danmark
  • Frode Thuen, Bergen University College, Norge
  • Maja OConnor
  • Rhonda L. Wilson, University of Newcastle, NSW, Massey University, Australien
  • Lise Hounsgaard, Syddansk Universitet, University of Greenland, Danmark
Aim and objectives
This study explores how children and young adults from divorced families experience double bereavement when they lose a divorced parent with cancer and how the double bereavement influences their mental health consequences and need of support.

Children and young people who are confronted with the cancer and death of a parent is a highly stressful life event, which is associated with an increased risk of mental health problems, especially when children experience divorced parental cancer and death.

Participant observations and interviews with a phenomenological‐hermeneutic approach and COREQ standards for reporting Qualitative research.

We conducted 340 hours of participant observations within nine different support groups totaling 27 children and young adults from divorced families and included 28 interviews with participants and relatives. Analyses are based on Ricoeurs theory of interpretation: Naïve reading, structural analysis, interpretation and discussion.

The experiences with double bereavement were identified three main themes: 1. Navigating through multiple transitions and disruptions within two family worlds: 2. Consequences for mental health including stress overload and disruptions to well‐being; and: 3. Need for accessible support derived from close relationships and professionals within and in‐between family worlds.

Children and young adult´s double bereavement includes multiple transitions and disruptions often related to stress overload and mental health problems. Support from close relationships and professionals are experienced as helpful in the prevention and mitigation of mental health problems.

Relevance to clinical practice
There is a need for targeted accessible support availability to children, young adults and their families when a divorced parent is dying of cancer in clinical practice. Our findings suggest that specific health policies for health professionals should be developed to target improved support for these families.
TidsskriftJournal of Clinical Nursing
Sider (fra-til)1238-1253
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 2020

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