The National Palliative Care Research Center

Curing suffering through palliative care research.


Sharla Rent, MD

Assistant Professor

Duke University

Grant Year
Grant Term
2 years
Grant Type
Kornfeld Scholars Program

Project Description
Supporting Families after Perinatal Loss in Tanzania

Of the nearly 3 million stillbirths that occur each year, 98% occur in Low-and Middle-Income Countries. There is a rising call for research targeting global stillbirth prevention and, simultaneously, improved social and emotional care for bereaved families. Tanzania ranks 9th in total stillbirths worldwide. The high prevalence of perinatal loss coupled with limited available resources for palliative care make Tanzania an ideal research location to study psychosocial support following stillbirth. For this proposal, I will conduct a parallel mixed-methods assessment of perinatal loss at the Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center (KCMC) in Moshi, Tanzania. In Aim 1, I will use geographic information systems (GIS) data to map the living locations of women who deliver at KCMC, highlighting perinatal loss cases. This methodologic approach will allow for the identification for high-prevalence areas within the region. In Aim 2, I will use surveys and semi-structured interviews to define facilitators and barriers to bereavement support surrounding stillbirth. Obstetric and pediatric medical providers will complete a Knowledge, Attitude, and Practices survey (n=30) addressing perinatal loss. Women who experience stillbirth at KCMC will complete a survey on the support they experienced during and following delivery (n=50), administered at their 6-week follow-up visit. A subset from each group will participate in a qualitative interview.  Aim 1 will inform interview sampling for Aim 2, with increased representation by women from the most impacted regions. By combining GIS, survey, and qualitative data, this study will lay the foundation for a locally relevant patient-focused intervention that leverages epidemiologic data and the lived experiences of women. Additionally, engaging in these research activities, and my associated career development goals, will provide the essential experience and preliminary data to propel me towards research independence in perinatal palliative care.

Sharla Rent, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Duke University and affiliate faculty at the Duke Global Health Institute. Dr. Rent received her BS in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University and her medical degree from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. She then went on to complete her pediatrics residency at Saint Louis University and her neonatology fellowship at the University of Michigan. During her fellowship she conducted research on provider decision making at the margin of viability in resource constrained settings. Dr. Rent is a member of a NGO, Wax and Gold, Inc., that focuses on neonatal resuscitation training and newborn care in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and sits on the American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Neonatal Perinatal Medicine’s Committee on Global Health. Dr. Rent joined the faculty at Duke University in 2019 and continues to focus her work on improving global neonatal care and psychosocial support for families.