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Interventions for supporting parents' decisions about autopsy after stillbirth

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Background: Stillbirth remains one of the least understood areas of infant death and accurate data on the causes of stillbirth are the cornerstone of stillbirth prevention. An autopsy examination remains the gold standard post-mortem investigation for stillbirth. However, decisions about post-mortem investigations, particularly autopsy are difficult. The purpose of this review is to examine the effectiveness of methods to help parents who have experienced a stillbirth decide whether to have post-mortem investigations, including whether to have an autopsy performed. Objectives: The primary objectives were a) to examine the effectiveness of interventions to support parents' decisions about autopsy consent after a stillbirth on outcomes for parents, and b) to determine autopsy rates. Secondary objectives were to identify issues related to the acceptability of any interventions to parents and the feasibility of their implementation. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (29 October 2012), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library 2012, Issue 10), MEDLINE (1966 to 24 July 2012) and EMBASE (1980 to 24 July 2012), Current Controlled Trials metaRegister (mRCT) (18 September 2012) and the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform Search Portal (ICTRP) (18 September 2012). We also searched the websites of the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Charity (SANDS) and International Stillbirth Alliance (ISA) (18 September 2012) and then subsequently searched the websites of all the ISA member organisations. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions designed specifically to support parents who have experienced a stillbirth make decisions about their options for post-mortem investigations including all investigations after stillbirth compared with usual care. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently screened citations against the selection criteria. Main results: No studies meeting the review inclusion criteria were identified. A search of 40 websites associated with supporting parents who experience stillbirth also found little reference to, or information about autopsy or other post-mortem examinations. Authors' conclusions: Support for parents making decisions about autopsy or other post-mortem examinations after stillbirth must rely on the ad hoc knowledge and experience of those involved at the time.




Horey, D., Flenady, V., Heazell, A. E. P., & Khong, T. Y. (2013, February 28). Interventions for supporting parents’ decisions about autopsy after stillbirth. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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