Dr Tom Buckley is a Senior Lecturer and cardiovascular researcher at the Sydney Nursing School and has led ground-breaking studies examining the health impact of bereavement on recently bereaved spouses and parents.
He has worked as a registered nurse, with specialist qualifications in intensive care nursing, for over 18 years and has practiced in the UK, US and Australia in specialties such as intensive care, acute cardiology, nephrology. He is a member of the National Prescribing Service Curriculum and Education Working Committee and deputy Chair of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC) Accreditation Committee for Nurse Practitioner Curricular. In addition to cardiovascular research, he is also an active researcher in nurse practitioner prescribing behaviours and the use of high fidelity immersive simulation in emergency response education.
His findings from the Cardiovascular Risk in Early Bereavement (CARBER) study have been published in the Internal Medicine Journal. The journal Heart Lung and Circulation also reported his findings on the impact of bereavement on psychological, behavioural and physiological changes, which are associated with increased cardiac risk.
The research found that acute bereavement from the death of a spouse or child, particularly during the early weeks, can cause physiological changes (neurohormonal, haemodynamic and prothrombotic), changes previously associated with increase the risk of heart attacks and sudden cardiac death. Additionally, findings of reduced heart rate variability were recently presented at the prestigious scientific meeting of the American Heart Association in Chicago, a presentation selected for special recognition at the International Researchers forum.
“While the focus at the time of bereavement is naturally directed towards the deceased person, the health and welfare of bereaved survivors should also be of concern to health care professionals, as well as family and friends,” he says.
“This research gives insight into the impact life’s greatest stress on the surviving spouse or parent during the early bereavement period, a time of greatest cardiovascular risk.