Harmonising and improving bereavement care research

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Dr Danya Bakhbakhi, academic clinical fellow in Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Bristol and Southmead Hospital, has been awarded £367,000 for a National Institute for Health Research [NIHR] Doctoral Research Fellowship to investigate outcomes after stillbirth. 

Dr Bakhakakhi has already carried out a pilot research project, hosted and funded by North Bristol NHS Trust alongside a grant from Southmead Hospital Charity. This preliminary research will help feed into the main project, named 'ICHOOSE'.

Every year stillbirth affects over 3,000 women in the United Kingdom. The loss of a baby has many effects on parents and their families in the short and long term, including poor health, depression, alcohol and drug use, unemployment and can have a significant negative impact on subsequent pregnancies. Research is needed to investigate effective interventions.

Dr Bakhbakhi will develop a Core Outcome Set and identify outcome measurement tools for care (interventions) after stillbirth; as part of an international collaboration with the University of Bristol, the University of Oxford, the University of Adelaide, the University of Queensland, the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity (Sands) and the COMET and CROWN initiatives.

Dimitrios Siassakos, consultant senior lecturer in Obstetrics, and Danya’s primary supervisor commented: “We have been investigating the impact of stillbirth, the problems with care for bereaved parents, and the issues affecting staff who look after these parents. We have been designing interventions to improve care in collaboration with parents. What had been missing was the way to measure the success of bereavement care interventions, which Danya’s work will address. We are grateful to the NIHR for this funding.”

Dr Danya Bakhbakhi said: “There needs to be more evidence to help improve care and decision-making for parents who experience stillbirth. Developing a Core Outcome Set and identifying ways to measure the outcomes identified will enable parents, clinicians and researchers to start making evidence-based decisions about the care they receive, provide, or research. Furthermore, it will provide a foundation to evaluate all existing or new interventions developed to improve care following stillbirth from diagnosis, within the hospital and community, subsequent pregnancies and beyond.  The positive impact of this fellowship will be vast and I am delighted that the NIHR are supporting research in this field.”