Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Nursing)

Schools and Centres

Nursing and Midwifery

First Supervisor

Caroline Bulsara

Second Supervisor

Assoc. Professor Pamela McGrath


Background: Palliative care services are primary organisations that provide bereavement support in Australia and aim to mitigate potential adverse outcomes of grief and bereavement The success of bereavement services depends, in part, on how ‘receptive’ the bereaved are to receiving support. Although palliative care services provide support services for bereaved carers and families, there still remains a discord between what is delivered, what is needed and factors that deter or encourage a person’s receptiveness to support.

Purpose: The aim of this research was to examine utilisation of bereavement support through the ‘lens’ of receptivity. Bereavement and receptivity are complex multifactorial phenomenon. This study aims to contribute further insights on receptivity to better inform bereavement service design and delivery.

Method: A qualitative descriptive research design was utilised in order to remain close to the complexity and richness of participant stories. Experiences of bereaved individuals and health professionals who provide bereavement support were explored. Participants were recruited via rural palliative care services. Thirty-four interviews were completed using open ended questions within semi-structured interviews, were transcribed verbatim and thematically analysed.

Results: Diaspora was a key theme that emerged from the findings of this study and transformed into a conceptual framework, bereavement diaspora. Bereavement diaspora integrates the key themes from the findings which include: 1) existential diaspora, 2) coping, 3) relationships, and 4) language. Bereavement diaspora situates the bereaved individual within the intrapsychic, socio-cultural, socio-political and temporal contexts which all interact to influence the experienceof bereavement. It is through the bereavement diaspora perspective that receptivity was examined and facilitators and barriers of receptivity to support were identified.

Conclusion: Bereavement diaspora integrates the many factors that impact on the bereavement experience and demonstrates how the individual and broader social and systemic issues influence receptivity to support. Findings from this study provide further insights into receptivity to bereavement support which can inform palliative care bereavement support program design and delivery.

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Nursing Commons