Drs. Amy Dellinger Page and Jonelle Husain have received Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval to move ahead with their research project exploring end-of-life doulas (EOLDS), a new and exciting field of medical care practice. Their project, "Assessing the Prevalence and Experiences of End-of-Life Doulas," will begin early September. This will be the first research study of EOLDS who are trained and certified professionals who accompany a dying person and their loved ones through their final months, weeks, and days of life. EOLDs provide resources and assistance to facilitate end-of-life planning, advocacy for a dying person's wishes, life review and legacy project support, as well as respite for the caregivers (Lifespan Doulas, 2019). Husain and Page will be working with the International End of Life Doula Association (INELDA) to gain access to participants for their study. As noted in the INELDA'S newsletter, this research project will be conducted in two phases.
The first part of the research will explore the motivations, background, and experiences of doulas who were trained by INELDA. It will use an online survey format for its questions. This part of the study will give us basic statistical data to better understand who doulas are; their sociocultural background and economic circumstances; the kinds of services they provide; how they work, and the challenges and rewards of their service.
The second phase of the project will consist of in-depth qualitative interviews of EOLDS. This phase of the research project is designed to elicit more detailed information about the doulas’ experiences with dying people and their loved ones. It will look at how doulas understand the motivations of clients, the goals of doula care, concerns the dying have about the process of dying, as well as the challenges, rewards, and impacts of being an end of life doula.
Page and Husain believe that their research will shed more light on this new and emerging field of health care practice, as well as motivations and experiences of professionals providing EOLD care. This research may illuminate the benefits of advocacy for positive and informed approaches to death.