Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Megan Oka (Committee Co-Chair), W. David Robinson (Committee Co-Chair)


Megan Oka


W. David Robinson


Travis E. Dorsch


With approximately 65 stillbirths occurring each day in the United States, a significant number of parents are left to navigate a difficult grieving process. An event like stillbirth presents many individual and relational challenges. For this study, researchers focused on the hospital experience for couples following notification of stillbirth. Interviews were held with 8 couples that had experienced stillbirth within the past 10 years. Researchers wanted to know what similarities and differences existed in how mothers and fathers described the clinical encounter.

The data for this study were collected through interviews. Couples were encouraged to share as much or as little as they’d like about the hospital experience. Couples were also asked to describe how they experienced the clinical encounter as individuals and as a couple. Participants in this study were also given the opportunity to provide feedback on what doctors and other hospital staff could do to assist individuals and couples during this difficult time.

Participants discussed how hospital staff helped to shape the experience. This was done both in their interactions with staff and the accommodations that were made. Some parents described hospital staff as “gems” or their “angels” while others reported the pain of hospital staff invalidating their experience. While similarities existed in how parents experienced the clinical encounter, each participant’s experience was unique. Studies should continue to be conducted in an effort to further develop evidence-based practices in hospitals meant to help parents navigate this difficult experience.