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Considerable Number of Doctors Attend Patient Funerals

But major differences between specialties in terms of attendance, barriers and benefits tied to attendance

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THURSDAY, Sept. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A considerable proportion of doctors attend patient funerals, including 71 percent of general practitioners (GPs), according to a study published online Sept. 9 in Death Studies.

Sofia C. Zambrano, Ph.D., from the University of Adelaide in Australia, and colleagues surveyed 437 doctors in an online survey to examine the appropriateness of attending a patient's funeral.

The researchers found that 71, 67, 67, 63, 52, and 22 percent of GPs, oncologists, psychiatrists, palliative care specialists, surgeons, and intensive care specialists had attended patient funerals. There were significant differences in demographics and between specialties in terms of barriers and benefits linked to attendance.

"We emphasize that the role of peer perception and the hesitation of medical doctors to discuss funeral attendance (and perhaps other death-related topics) with colleagues are important issues to consider," the authors write. "The medical community should ask itself whether funeral attendance needs to -- and can -- be addressed more openly, whether death and dying should be discussed more candidly among health professionals, and what effects these discussions may have on job satisfaction and on the mental health of medical practitioners."

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