Evermore Submits Comments to AHRQ on Interventions to Improve Care of Bereaved Persons
Bereavement’s long-standing absence from public policy debates and national health priorities, along with its newfound urgency, requires sound leadership and an aggressive agenda to address the substantial challenges confronting our nation’s grieving population. Today, America lacks a comprehensive, coordinated, and evidence-based bereavement care system that is protective and mitigates bereavement’s harmful effects across time and place. As a result, bereavement has major spillover effects at every stage of the life course, especially in the first two decades of life (for children and youth) and in mid-life (when family formation, child-rearing, and employment peak).
However, bereavement as a public concern is in its nascent stages and thus offers an unparalleled opportunity to leverage existing public and private healthcare initiatives to go “upstream” by delivering effective preventive services to stem the onset of chronic or debilitating health conditions associated with bereavement.
For example, in one 2020 register-based study examining the entire Norwegian population from 1986 to 2014, researchers found evidence of elevated alcohol-induced mortality among bereaved parents. Based on this evidence, healthcare providers should invoke existing quality alcohol misuse screening tools for bereaved parents to stem the short- and long-term ramifications of alcohol misuse following the death of a child. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), unhealthy alcohol use screening among adults aged 18 presently receives a B rating. Healthcare providers attending to newly bereaved parents can identify the patient’s risk for developing alcohol misuse while also preventing the onset of addiction and reducing premature mortality. Evidence-based tools for grief and bereavement may be lacking, but alcohol misuse evidence-based resources are not.