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The loss of a pregnancy or death of a baby is a tragedy that afflicts 1 in 4 of all United States women during their lifetime—a tragedy that also affects those close to them. Everyone who experiences a perinatal loss, whether in pregnancy, at birth, or in the first year of life deserves professional perinatal bereavement support from care providers who are well trained in this nuanced specialty and can address the individualized needs of grieving families. The scope of practice for perinatal bereavement professionals is immense, given the variation in responses to this type of loss. Significant racial disparities related to need for and access to care are also evident. Despite the need, there are few opportunities for relevant continuing education in the field of perinatal bereavement or opportunities for collaboration among professional care providers, researchers, and parent advocates. Care providers do not consistently have access to patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR)-based education nor funding for appropriate training in this field. The demand is great for a multidisciplinary, evidence-based conference that focuses on contemporary issues, the dissemination of PCOR, and fosters sustaining relationships among patients, clinicians, and researchers in perinatal bereavement.
PLIDA, the Pregnancy Loss and Infant Death Alliance, is a nonprofit alliance of groups and individuals who share a common goal: to improve perinatal bereavement care. Comprised of professional care providers, parent advocates, researchers, and others, PLIDA members collaborate, have a common voice, share resources, and develop position statements and practice guidelines so that bereavement care is consistent and of the highest quality.
In October 2018, PLIDA will sponsor the 21st Biennial International Perinatal Bereavement Conference (IPBC) in St. Louis, Missouri. This educational opportunity will fill a crucial training gap and offer stakeholders access to current PCOR-based best practices for implementing patient-centered care. In addition, the IPBC will provide a space for stakeholders to build networks, support one another, and share emerging or innovative approaches to unique and evolving issues within the field.
PLIDA expects 350 stakeholders to attend the 63 planned educational sessions where innovative topics will be addressed, including disparities faced by vulnerable populations. An estimated 125,000 patients in the next year will be impacted by the conference attendees receiving PCOR-based education on best practices, with the goal of moving closer to providing every bereaved family with patient-centered, relationship-based care. More than 26 hours of CME/CEU credit will be offered to professional care providers, and 27 conference scholarships will facilitate dissemination of PCOR to stakeholders who are not adequately funded in their practice. Networking events at the conference will foster connection and facilitate collaboration among researchers, professional care providers, and parent advocates.
Ultimately, the 2018 IPBC will build upon the success of the 2016 conference by increasing outreach to stakeholders, addressing contemporary clinical practice issues, and enhancing evaluation of stakeholder educational and networking needs, with the goal of disseminating these results via peer-reviewed publication in the future.