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Keywords:

  • suddenly bereaved family members;
  • helpful and unhelpful nursing actions;
  • accident and emergency;
  • Chinese culture;
  • bereavement;
  • Hong Kong

Background.  The sudden death of a family member is always traumatic to the family. Nursing actions such as providing comfort measures and providing an opportunity to view the deceased were consistently perceived as helpful by the suddenly bereaved. Little is known about the perception of bereaved family members in Hong Kong concerning the care they received in accident and emergency (A & E) departments. This study serves to identify actions, which were perceived as helpful in A & E setting in Hong Kong.

Aim.  To gain knowledge about what nursing actions bereaved family members in Hong Kong perceived as helpful.

Method.  This study was exploratory and descriptive in nature, and used a quantitative approach. Data were collected through structured telephone interviews using a modified Tye's questionnaire.

Results.  Seventy-six bereaved subjects were recruited in an A & E department in Hong Kong. The subjects perceived written information, opportunity to view the deceased, and respecting individual customs and religious procedures as most helpful and conversely, offering sedation, discouraging viewing of the body, and providing comfort measures as most unhelpful. No statistically significant differences among the overall mean of helpful nursing actions according to the subjects' age, gender, education level, family income and religions were found while using Mann–Whitney's U and Kruskal–Wallis' tests. Significant correlations between some actions and the respondents' age, family income and educational level were found.

Conclusion.  Accident and emergency nurses have unique role in offering helpful actions to support suddenly bereaved family members.