A qualitative study of the experiences of relatives to brought in dead persons in an emergency department

Dorthe Gaby Bove, Suzanne Forsyth Herling, Nanna Sørensen, Peter Gjersøe, Helle Timm

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Aims: The aim was to explore the experiences of relatives seeing and saying goodbye to brought in dead persons in a Danish emergency department.Design: This was a qualitative study based on interpretive description methodology.
Methods: Data were collected through semi-structured individual interviews with relatives (n= 11) of brought in dead persons and 30 h of participatory observations of these relatives visiting the emergency department to see and say goodbye to the deceased. Data were collected between February 2019 and December 2020.
Results: Our analyses revealed internal and external chaos as an overarching theme, covering 4 themes and 10 subthemes. The four themes were traumatic events, re-stricted access, briefly being together again, and final goodbyes and departures.
Conclusion: Emergency departments were highly acute and busy settings that prior-itized survival more than the care of deceased people and their relatives. The relatives were, in every way, affected by internal and external chaos; the external chaos in the emergency department reinforced the feeling of internal chaos. It is necessary for man-agers and nurses in emergency departments to organize and practice care for relatives, whilst bringing in deceased individuals in a less chaotic and more caring manner.
Impact: This study contributes to the knowledge of relatives' experiences regard-ing brought in dead persons, underpinning the need to care for this subpopulation in emergency departments. Care for relatives of brought in dead individuals has the po-tential to relieve suffering and prevent diseases, which are core elements of nursing
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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