Aim: To report an analysis of the concept of perinatal bereavement. Background: The concept of perinatal bereavement emerged in the scientific literature during the 1970s. Perinatal bereavement is a practice-based concept, although it is not well-defined in the scientific literature and is often intermingled with the concepts of mourning and grief. Design: Concept Analysis. Data sources: Using the term 'perinatal bereavement' and limits of only English and human, Pub Med and CINAHL were searched to yield 278 available references dating from 1974-2011. Articles specific to the experience of perinatal bereavement were reviewed. The final data set was 143 articles. Review methods: The methods of principle-based concept analysis were used. Results reveal conceptual components (antecedents, attributes and outcomes) which are delineated to create a theoretical definition of perinatal bereavement. Results: The concept is epistemologically immature, with few explicit definitions to describe the phenomenon. Inconsistency in conceptual meaning threatens the construct validity of measurement tools for perinatal bereavement and contributes to incongruent theoretical definitions. This has implications for both nursing science (how the concept is studied and theoretically integrated) and clinical practice (timing and delivery of support interventions). Conclusions: Perinatal bereavement is a multifaceted global phenomenon that follows perinatal loss. Lack of conceptual clarity and lack of a clearly articulated conceptual definition impede the synthesis and translation of research findings into practice. A theoretical definition of perinatal bereavement is offered as a platform for researchers to advance the concept through research and theory development.
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