Actual Solidarity through Virtual Support: A Pilot Descriptive Study of an Online Support Group for Bereaved Parents

Meaghann S. Weaver, Alex Jurgens, Marie L. Neumann, Sabrina M. Schalley, Jody Koenig Kellas, Hema Navaneethan, Julianne Tullis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Hospital-based support for bereaved parents is regarded as best practice. Little is known about parental perceptions or programmatic potential of online grief support. Objectives: To learn from bereaved parent participants' experiences with an online support group to include perceptions of technology acceptance and group communication dynamics. Design: Descriptive study reporting on an eight-week online bereavement support group offered during summer 2020. Subjects and Setting: Inclusive of six bereaved parent participants in the Midwestern United States. Measurements: Post-intervention survey consisting of 49-items with the Technology Acceptance Model and Other Communicated Perspective-Taking Ability instruments embedded. Results: Five bereaved mothers and one father (mean age 32 years) residing an average 126 miles from hospital participated in an online support group in a timeframe seven months to one year from the death of their child. Intensity of grief emotion (5/6 parents) and physical distance (4/6 parents) were notable barriers to in-person visits to the hospital, where bereavement support was to be offered. Parents uniformly reported feeling benefit from the program and satisfaction with the program. Respondents self-reported gaining improved communication (4/6 parents), coping (3/6 parents), peer support (3/6 parents), education (3/6 parents), and emotional expression (3/6 parents). Mean scores on the technology acceptance and communication experiences scales were 4.7/5. The virtual format was an acceptable modality with perceived supportive interpersonal communication dynamics. Conclusion: Pediatric palliative care teams may consider the offering of online bereavement support groups. Further research is warranted on the impact and outcomes of online bereavement support groups for bereaved parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1161-1166
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • bereavement
  • communication
  • pediatric palliative care
  • telehealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • General Nursing


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