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Healthcare staff ‘s experience in providing end-of-life care to children: A mixed-method review

Journal title
Palliative medicine
Publication year
McConnell, T.; Scott, D.; Porter, S.

BACKGROUND: Staff who provide end-of-life care to children not only have to deal with their own sense of loss but also that of bereaved families. There is a dearth of knowledge on how they cope with these challenges. AIM: The aim of this review is to explore the experiences of healthcare professionals who provide end-of-life care to children in order to inform the development of interventions to support them, thereby improving the quality of paediatric care for both children and their families. DATA SOURCES: Searches included CINAHL, MEDLINE, Web of Science, EMBASE, PsychINFO and The Cochrane Library in June 2015, with no date restrictions. Additional literature was uncovered from searching reference lists of relevant studies, along with contacting experts in the field of paediatric palliative care. DESIGN: This was a systematic mixed studies review. Study selection, appraisal and data extraction were conducted by two independent researchers. Integrative thematic analysis was used to synthesise the data. RESULTS: The 16 qualitative, 6 quantitative and 8 mixed-method studies identified included healthcare professionals in a range of settings. Key themes identified rewards and challenges of providing end-of-life care to children, the impact on staff’s personal and professional lives, coping strategies and key approaches to help support staff in their role. CONCLUSION: Education focusing on the unique challenges of providing end-of-life care to children and the importance of self-care, along with timely multidisciplinary debriefing, are key strategies for improving healthcare staff’s experiences, and as such the quality of care they provide.

Research abstracts