About the Bereavement Search Filter

CareSearch has developed and validated a Bereavement Search Filter for use in PubMed, the free online version of Medline. The search filter is available in the Clinical Evidence section of the CareSearch website. To use the search filter, searchers need only click on a hyperlink. This launches a current search for English language bereavement literature within the PubMed database.

Run the Bereavement Search Filter now.

What's a search filter?

A search filter is a search strategy for identifying the relevant information within a larger pool of relevant and irrelevant information, typically in an electronic bibliographic database. A search filter is more than an expert searcher’s best attempt at finding everything in an area of interest. It is an experimentally derived, tested and validated tool with a known level of performance in whichever database it was created for.

Why bereavement in palliative care?

The death of a loved person is a significant loss and people respond differently to such a loss with some experiencing intense and persistent grief. Hence, bereavement is an integral part of care and care planning within palliative care services.

The Bereavement support standards for specialist palliative care services [1] developed for the Department of Health (Victoria) highlight that bereavement support should be delivered:

  • in a targeted way to those having been identified through structured screening and assessment as most likely to benefit from specialist intervention;
  • with a focus on identifying the bereaved person’s own resources and capacity that will enhance their resilience;
  • over a period from pre-death to several months post death and beyond where required; and
  • with a focus on the palliative care client’s primary carer and extending to other carers/family members where resources allow.

Why use the Bereavement Search Filter?

Clinicians in all medical, nursing and allied health disciplines providing bereavement care require ongoing, timely access to the best available research evidence to inform their practice. Finding relevant literature when needed can be difficult due to the vast amount of literature available, different ways of accessing it, a lack of time to invest in the task, and a real or perceived lack of searching skills.

A search filter is a tool that can improve search efficiency by providing an easy-to-use, standardised shortcut to clinically relevant literature. CareSearch has experience in the empirical development of search filters. It has previously developed the Palliative Care Search Filter for retrieving the diffuse palliative care literature [2] and the Heart Failure Search Filter. [3]

The Bereavement PubMed Searches

The Bereavement Search Filter has also been combined with 21 ‘expert’ searches on topics of relevance to both bereavement and palliative care; e.g. spirituality, complicated grief and bereavement in specific population groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders or Childen and adolescents. Some of these Bereavement PubMed Searches  are also available as one-click hyperlinks on the CareSearch website, directly from a relevant page.

Each PubMed search provides the option to limit the search to free full txt only. This means the user is taken only to those references where the article is immediately available in full text, reached by one click and no log on required.

Searchers can also follow the simple instructions provided here to use the Bereavement Search Filter in creating their own search on a topic of interest.

How was the Bereavement Search Filter developed?

The Bereavement Search Filter was originally developed for the OvidSP Medline database following a strict research methodology.

The OvidSP Medline Bereavement Search Filter is available to clinicians who prefer to search using this interface. This search filter can be typed into the Medline search box, exactly as shown below, and then saved for recurrent use.


bereavement/ or bereav*.ti. or grief.ti. or grieving.ti. or continuing bond*.ti,ab. or spousal loss.ti,ab. or complicated grief.ti,ab or prolonged grief.ti,ab
  1. Hall C, Hudson P, Boughey A. Bereavement support standards for specialist palliative care services. Melbourne: Department of Health, State Government of Victoria; 2012.
  2. Sladek R, Tieman J, Fazekas BS, Abernathy AP, Currow DC. Development of a subject search filter to find information relevant to palliative care in the general medical literature. J Med Libr Assoc. 2006 Oct:94(4):394-401.
  3. Damarell RA, Tieman J, Sladek RM, Davidson PM. Development of a heart failure filter for Medline: an objective approach using evidence-based clinical practice guidelines as an alternative to hand searching. BMC Med Res Methodol. 2011 Jan 28;11:12.

Last updated 31 January 2017