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Research Letter
June 25, 2012

Nature and Impact of Grief Over Patient Loss on Oncologists' Personal and Professional Lives

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Psychology, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Dr Granek); Department of Medical Oncology, Juravinski Cancer Centre, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (Dr Tozer); Palliative Care Consult Team, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto (Dr Mazzotta); Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto (Dr Mazzotta); McGill Clinical and Health Informatics, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (Ms Ramjaun); and Department of Medical Oncology & Hematology, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto (Dr Krzyzanowska).

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(12):964-966. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.1426

Caring for critically ill and terminal patients can generate grief reactions in health care professionals (HCPs).1-4 While all HCPs can potentially experience grief over patient loss, oncologists face unique pressures because they are legally responsible for the patients' care and may be blamed when patients die.5 Despite the evidence that grief over patient loss is an intrinsic part of clinical oncology, there are no qualitative studies examining the nature and extent of oncologists' grief over patient loss nor the impact of this grief on oncologists' lives. The objectives of our study were to explore and identify oncologists' grief over patient loss and the ways in which this grief may affect their personal and professional lives.

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