Thesis subject

MSc thesis: Developing a tool for supervisors/managers that enables them to estimate together with the employee the optimal support after acute loss.

Start:                                From October 2020 onwards

Location:                          Division of Human Nutrition and Health/ Consumption and Healthy Lifestyles (Department of social sciences)

Interests/topics:             Bereavement, support at work, Sudden Unexpected Death in Infants (SUDI), attitude of employers.

Specific activities:           Assessment of current activities of employers and company doctors related to bereavement of employees, participant contacts; qualitative and quantitative data collection, data analysis. Dutch speaking students in this case.


A pilot study into support of employees at work was carried out on behalf of the Dutch Association of Parents of Cot Death Children. This study examined how parents experience the care and support of the employer after the sudden and unexpected death of their baby, and how this can possibly be improved. One of the outcomes is that parents who have lost an infant expect support and an specific attitude of their employer at work. The perceive a respectful, open communication as positive. After a trauma such as cot death, an employer and company doctor should not wait and see how the employee is doing, but should proactively offer help. Discussing openly what is possible in terms of help after a trauma prevents different care providers from 'waiting for each other' while parents lack proper help.

Based on the pilot study, a tool has been developed containing well-founded advice and a step-by-step plan for employees and company doctors, containing clear instructions on how to communicate with parents who have experienced an acute loss.


The main objective of this project is to further test and develop the tool in close cooperation with employers and company doctors. Furthermore, research should reveal how the tool can be implemented in the Dutch companies and small and medium-sized businesses, which makes it accessible to those employers who are in grief.

Design: The study will consist of a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. Interviews

with employers and company doctors about the developed tool will be conducted. Based on this

information a questionnaire will be developed, which will include the (possibly adapted) tool.

There is room for the student’s own input and ideas regarding the topic and content of the thesis.