A research literature review to determine how bereavement programs are evaluated
A review of all 44 research reports published between 2000 and 2018 on bereavement program evaluation was undertaken to identify evaluation methods and assess their apparent efficacy. Bereavement program evaluations varied considerably, with multiple data collection methods per study common (61.4%) over single methods (38.6%). Among these evaluation methods, a self-devised questionnaire was most often used (59.1%), followed by qualitative interviewing (36.4%), and the use of 1 or more of 35 data collection instruments such as grief inventories or depression scales (40.9%). Evaluative data were usually only collected once (77.3%), typically around program completion. Formal bereavement program evaluation appears to be ad hoc and sporadic, and potentially unlikely to provide the type and quality of information needed to retain, improve, expand, or abandon programs. Evaluation method developments including evaluation standards are needed to ensure recipients and others benefit as expected from bereavement programs.