Using the Delphi technique to achieve consensus on bereavement care in palliative care in Europe: An EAPC White Paper

Orla Keegan*, Irene Murphy, Inger Benkel, Joaquim T. Limonero, Marilyn Relf, Mai Britt Guldin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The WHO definition of palliative care includes bereavement support as integral to palliative care, yet a previous survey of bereavement support in palliative care in Europe has shown a range of service responses to loss. A rigorous approach to agreeing and implementing a palliative care bereavement framework was required. Aim: The aim of this study was to develop consensus on best-practice recommendations for bereavement care principles, structures, processes and delivery based on current practice and evidence. Design: In accordance with Guidance on Conducting and Reporting Delphi Studies, a consensus-building five-round Delphi technique was performed. A scoping review of research literature informed drafting of 54 statements by the EAPC Bereavement Task Force. Evaluation of the statements was performed by an expert panel using a 5-point Likert scale. ⩾80% agreement were defined as essential items and 75%–79% agreement were defined as desirable items. Items with a consensus rating <75% were revised during the process. Setting/participants: The Delphi study was carried out by an expert panel among membership organisations of the European Association for Palliative Care. Results: In total, 376 email requests to complete Delphi questionnaire were distributed with a response rate of 23% (n = 87) and a follow-up response-rate of 79% (n = 69). Of the initial 54 statements in six dimensions, 52 statements were endorsed with 26 essential statements and 26 desirable statements. Conclusions: The six dimensions and 52 statements agreed through this Delphi study clarify a coherent direction for development of bereavement services in palliative care in Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1908-1922
Number of pages15
JournalPalliative Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2021


  • bereavement
  • consensus
  • Delphi technique
  • palliative care
  • practice guidelines


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