A New Text-Based Approach to Delivering Quality Bereavement Care (Conference Presentation)

Lunardini, M

2023 NHPCO Annual Leadership Conference
4 October 2023

Professional and community support during bereavement is in short supply and can be difficult to access (Aoun et al., 2020). Only a minority of grievers are extremely satisfied with the support they receive (Cacciatore et al., 2021). Researchers and bereavement professionals are seeking innovative low-cost, high-reach forms of support to meet grievers’ needs (Supiano et al., 2021; Zuelke et al., 2021). This presentation will report on grievers’ perceptions of the acceptability and helpfulness of Grief Coach, an innovative, ongoing, expert, text-based grief support service aligned with a public health approach to bereavement care. The messages, grounded in contemporary models of grief and coping, provide support, information, and encourage engagement in adaptive coping behaviors. Participants in the evaluation were bereaved family members who received Grief Coach as a hospice benefit. Based on program administrative data, the 13-month program retention rate was 86%. Among subscribers who met inclusion criteria for and completed a brief evaluation (N=100, response rate = 65%), 73% rated the program as “Very helpful” and 74% rated it as contributing “A great deal” or “Considerably” to their sense of being supported in their grief. Older grievers (age 65+ years old) and males tended to give the highest ratings. In their written feedback, most respondents expressed their appreciation for the program (e.g., “Thanks for being there”) or listed something they liked or found helpful (e.g., “I don't feel as though I'm losing my mind anymore”) (Levesque et al., 2022). These preliminary data suggest that bereaved family members find the Grief Coach text message program to be acceptable and helpful.