Support Received and Provided by Older Adults who Lost a Child: A Qualitative Content Analysis

Azade Safa, Mohsen Adib Hajbaghery, Mahboubeh Rezaei


Background: Despite the vulnerability of older adults and the importance of social support following the death of a child, little research has been conducted on the Iranian older population. This study aimed to explore perceived support among older adults after the death of a child.

Materials and Methods: This study was carried out in Iran in 2020‑2021 using a qualitative content analysis method. Semi‑structured interviews with older adults who had experienced child death were used to collect data. To ensure the data’s trustworthiness, Guba and Lincoln’s criteria were applied. The Graneheim and Lundman method was used to analyze the data. Results: The participants’ mean age was 70.41 years. The findings were organized into one theme, two main categories, and five subcategories based on 352 initial codes. Two main categories emerged from the participants’ experiences: “supporting networks” and “giving support to others” with the theme of “healing emotional pain.” Following the death of a child, the older parents perceived support as recuperation from their hurt feelings.

Conclusions: Receiving support from family, entourages, and society, as well as providing support to the family and parents with the same experience were protective factors against the effects of child death among older parents. To reduce the consequences of child death, older parents’ health should be monitored through home care provided by nurses.


Aged, child, death, social support

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