A missing link? The role of mortuary staff in hospital based bereavement care services

Kate Woodthorpe, Carol Komaromy

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12 Citations (SciVal)


In this paper we argue that anatomical pathology technologists (APTs) have been overlooked as a key group of healthcare practitioners who play a role in bereavement care. Drawing on an ethnographic case study of a mortuary team in a large urban hospital, we examine the technical and emotional components of the APT role, including how the concept of patient care is utilised in the mortuary. We argue that their work with other healthcare practitioners and professionals illustrates how APTs offer a ‘bridge’ between the immediacy of a death, after-death care and subsequent viewing of the deceased person, thereby providing a vital and under-acknowledged service for bereaved people. We conclude that through education and the promotion of mortuary activities APTs are developing a ‘community of practice’ that moves beyond an outdated perception of ‘dirty work’ towards a more enlightened vision of mortuary settings and APTs as important components of hospital-based bereavement care services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-130
Number of pages7
JournalBereavement Care
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • anatomical pathology technologists
  • bereavement care service
  • community of practice
  • hospital mortuary
  • dirty work
  • ethnography


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