Theses Doctoral

Development and Testing of a Practice Model with Families Bereaved Due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Panzer, Barry Marvin

This study was conducted with a dual focus: the development of a practice model with families who had lost a baby due to SIDS and the testing of that model against the conventional counseling approach offered by the NYC SIDS Program.

The social networking model, which was designed according to developmental research guidelines, was based on the consensus findings in the literature, as well as the author's clinical work with more than 500 SIDS families. This model emphasized social support as a key factor in coping with the death, resulting in a crisis intervention approach which sought to sensitize the existing network and create artificial support when necessary.

Using a comparative research design, three primary hypotheses were established: (1) The social networking group would perceive greater social support. (2) The social networking group would experience a less problematic grief process. (3) The social networking group would experience a less problematic blame process.

The data were collected during a one-year period at the Brooklyn Office of the NYC SIDS Program (MHRA). The sample was drawn from 82 infant deaths, resulting in 30 mothers in each group. Randomization occurred after the respondent met the criterion for inclusion, which was the perception of limited support at the first contact point.

Mothers were interviewed at two weeks, three months and six months after the death and the design employed a measure of perceived support, a grief scale and separate indices of self-blame, blaming others and blame by others.

The findings confirmed the primary hypotheses that mothers in the social networking group perceived greater support and experienced less grief and blame.

The data also suggested a sequential model of change in the networking approach, wherein markedly improved perceptions of support coincided temporally with reductions in self-blame and perceived blame by others, followed by reductions in grief and blaming others later on.

Qualitative analysis of case material indicated that within the networking group, mothers whose outcome was not optimal tended to report more concurrent psychiatric and social stressors and a less responsive social network, implying a mutually interactive coping process.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Whiteman, Martin
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 26, 2015