Spousal bereavement after fibrotic interstitial lung disease: A qualitative study

Ingrid Egerod, Gudrun Kaldan, Saher Burhan Shaker, Mai-Britt Guldin, Andrea Browatski, Kristoffer Marsaa, Dorthe Overgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Fibrotic interstitial lung disease (f-ILD) comprises a group of diseases with lung scarring and reduced life expectancy. The short time from diagnosis to death affects the patients' bereaved spouses, who risk developing prolonged grief. In Denmark palliative care is most often offered to cancer patients.

AIM: We aimed to investigate the experience of spouses of f-ILD patients during the final stages of illness and up to the first year after the patient's death to investigate if palliative care could ease the transition and prevent PGD.

METHODS: Our study had a qualitative design triangulating in-depth interviews, field notes, participant diaries and the prolonged grief questionnaire PG-13. We included 20 spouses and applied thematic analysis. Initial coding was performed deductively according to the chronological stages of before, during and after the death of the patient. We subsequently coded inductively within the stages.

RESULTS: During the final days the spouses experienced emotional ambivalence shifting between hope, acceptance and despair. Factors affecting the spouses during the final hours were the timing, location, and process of death. After the patient's death the spouses experienced feelings of grief and optimism as they moved toward a new life on their own.

CONCLUSIONS: Some of the factors affecting the spouses and potentially causing prolonged grief might be alleviated by offering palliative/supportive care and advance care planning to f-ILD patients and their family.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRespiratory Medicine
Pages (from-to)129-136
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Advance Care Planning
  • Aged
  • Bereavement
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial/mortality
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Qualitative Research
  • Spouses/psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


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