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Delivering Hospital-Based Pediatric Palliative Care: The Symptoms, Interventions, and Outcomes for Children With Cancer in Bangladesh

Journal title
JCO global oncology
Publication year
Doherty, M.; Power, L.; Thabet, C.

PURPOSE: The majority of pediatric cancer deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Pediatric palliative care (PPC) focuses on relieving physical, psychosocial, and spiritual suffering throughout the continuum of cancer care and is considered integral to cancer care for children in all settings. There is limited evidence from LMICs about the characteristics, symptoms, and outcomes of children with cancer who receive PPC, which is needed to define the global need and guide the development of these services. METHODS: This retrospective review of clinical records of children who received PPC was conducted during a pilot project (January 2014-August 2015) that implemented a PPC team at a tertiary hospital in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Clinical data on diagnosis, symptoms, treatment status, deaths, and key palliative care interventions were collected and analyzed using descriptive statistics. RESULTS: There were 200 children who received PPC during the pilot project. The most common diagnoses were acute lymphoblastic leukemia (62%) and acute myeloid leukemia (11%). Psychosocial support for children (n = 305; 53%) and management of physical symptoms (n = 181; 31%) were the most common types of interventions provided. The most frequently recorded symptoms were pain (n = 60; 30%), skin wounds (n = 16; 8%), and weakness (n = 9; 5%). The most common medications prescribed were morphine (n = 32) and paracetamol (n = 21). CONCLUSION: A hospital-based PPC service addresses pain and symptom concerns as well as psychosocial needs for children with cancer and their families in a setting where resources are limited. Health care facilities should incorporate palliative care into the care of children with cancer to address the needs of children and their families.

Research abstracts