Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Studies

First Advisor

James McMillan


Abstract This quasi-experimental design study compared two small samples of Emergency medicine residents after one group had an educational intervention on death notification skills and the other did not. Comparisons were made on residents’ confidence in their communication, interpersonal skills and level of compassion fatigue/satisfaction and EM Residents’ level of Secondary Traumatic Stress after an event of patient death and subsequent notification of Secondary Patients. Residents were interviewed to gather recommendations for designing death notification curriculum. Over an eight month period, forty emergency medicine residents at two sites, control and intervention, completed surveys designed to provide quantitative data on self-confidence and stress related to recent patient deaths. Residents who participated in a death notification event completed the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale. Interviews were conducted to gather information on the impact of the notification and recommend changes in curriculum at the experimental site. The data infer that an educational intervention on death notification skills increased residents’ confidence in their ability to give compassionate death notification to families as compared with the control group. Residents in the intervention and control group had no significant differences in their potential for compassion satisfaction. Residents who had the educational intervention showed less Secondary Traumatic Stress symptoms than their non-intervention counterparts. The intervention group showed less risk for burnout (although it would only be significant at p < 0.10). The overall conclusion is that there is some evidence for a positive effect of the intervention. However, due to the small sample size the conclusion is tentative and more research is needed to evaluate the training.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

May 2010

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