Collaborating to improve bereavement support provision in the UK, particularly for minoritised and marginalised ethnic groups


Supervisor: Katherine Bristowe

Non-accademic partner: Cicely Saunders International

Studentship start date: 01/10/2023

Application deadline: 26/02/2023

Application details: If you have any questions about the project or application process please get in touch with the supervisor. For more information and how to apply please see

Katherine Bristowe:

For more information and how to apply, click here.

Background: Around 6 million people in the UK are affected by bereavement each year. The recent UK Commission on Bereavement found that almost one in five people had no support from friends and family in bereavement, and over one in three did not know what support was available. Those from minoritised ethnic groups (whose needs may be overlooked, or who may have less power within society)have additional barriers to accessing support. This can leave them vulnerable to poor outcomes in bereavement. Access to person-centered, culturally appropriate support in bereavement is vital, as it can help improve quality of life and mental wellbeing over time.

The project: Through this project, we will further knowledge of bereavement experiences and the things that may help and hinder people from accessing the support they need. Specifically, we will be focusing on minoritised ethnic communities and non-English speakers who already struggle to access bereavement support.

The first stage will be to examine the existing evidence on bereavement experiences for these groups, alongside existing bereavement theories. We will identify areas where delivery of, and access to, existing bereavement support could be improved. The second stage will be new research. We will conduct a number of focus groups with people from different minoritised ethnic groups. We will ask them about bereavement, death, dying and support. We will do up to 20 focus groups, with 5-8 people. We will use translators, or conduct groups online, to help people to feel at ease. We will analyse these focus groups looking for similarities and differences in the needs and experiences. We will work with each group to extract key findings. Lastly, we will use the findings from the first two stages to develop a new theory of minoritised bereavement experience. Then we will develop a set of resources for professionals and the public to improve access to bereavement support for minoritised ethnic groups.

Community engagement and collaboration: Alongside this, we will create an advisory panel made up off diverse community members to advise on this and other research projects in this neglected field. This will help to make sure the research remains focused on the priorities of the target communities. This project will be conducted as a collaboration between the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, Policy, and Rehabilitation at King’s College London (the university) and Cicely Saunders International, a charity whose mission is to improve care and support for everyone who is facing advanced illness and bereavement.