We appreciate the thoughtful comments of Dr Major in outlining his method for communicating with families following a patient's death. We strongly agree with Dr Major that the primary physician has an important role in bereavement intervention1,2 and encourage dialogue among health care providers regarding their methods of interacting with families after a death. Several small trials under the direction of psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses have shown that counseling benefits the bereaved by lowering drug and alcohol use, decreasing rates of physician visits, and improving psychological adjustment.3-5 Further studies are needed to determine the most effective ways for primary physicians to improve the health of survivors.
Tolle SW, Elliot DL, Hickman DH. Physician Practices When a Patient Dies-Reply. Arch Intern Med. 1985;145(7):1333. doi:10.1001/archinte.1985.00360070215043