SIDS Program Manual SIDS & Infant Death Program Manual and Trainer's Guide Trainer's Guide

Bereavement Support Services

Culturally-Competent Support Services

There are other considerations that impact provision of bereavement services to families. The existence of health disparities means that some groups experience deaths from different causes than others. African Americans and Native Americans have a higher proportion of deaths from causes such as SIDS, prematurity and asthma than Whites. Disparities also exist in access and use of support services.

It is important to respect that racial/ethnic groups tend to rely on well-established community resources, such as religious congregations, extended family and ethnic community centers, for bereavement support instead of participating in the SIDS-specific bereavement programs offered by State health departments and nonprofit organizations.

The lack of linguistically-competent services in Spanish and other languages is also a barrier to supporting families. Pediatric service providers must be prepared to meet the diverse cultural and linguistic needs of families.

Service providers are also impacted by changes in the overall U.S. population. There are an increasing number of nurses, social workers and other health care providers who are immigrants or members of minority groups. The varied backgrounds of care providers influence their expectations of appropriate bereavement care for families.13

To assure that minority families receive appropriate bereavement support, community service providers who traditionally work with bereaved families need to be identified and provided with the appropriate information specific to SIDS/SUID. As with the delivery of risk reduction messages, encouraging greater involvement by community leaders and families is the best chance for impacting the lives of families within any racial/ethnic group.