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Impact of Specialized Pediatric Palliative Care: A Systematic Review

Journal title
Journal of pain and symptom management
Publication year
Marcus, K. L.; Santos, G.; Ciapponi, A.; Comand�, D.; Bilodeau, M.; Wolfe, J.; Dussel, V.

CONTEXT: Specialized pediatric palliative care (SPPC) is increasingly involved in the care of seriously ill children, yet the evidence on its impact has not been comprehensively reviewed. OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to assess the effects of providing SPPC to seriously ill children on patient-, caregiver-, and systems-level outcomes. METHODS: We performed a Systematic Review following Cochrane methods. DATA SOURCES: Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, Global Health, The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, LILACS, and Web of Science were searched from January 1996 to June 2018. STUDY SELECTION/DATA EXTRACTION: We included randomized controlled, cohort, case-control, and before-after studies in which exposure to SPPC services was the intervention of interest. All outcomes reported in these studies were included. Two investigators independently selected articles, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias of included studies using standardized criteria. RESULTS: Twenty-four studies were included in qualitative synthesis: one nonrandomized controlled trial, 16 cohort studies, and seven before-after studies. Evidence certainty was low. Twenty-one studies had one or more area with high risk of bias, most commonly selection bias, low group comparability, risk for confounding, and inadequate statistical reporting. Studies analyzed 46 domains, operationalized as 136 distinct outcomes. SPPC was associated with better child quality of life scores in all four studies that assessed this outcome. No other outcome showed this consistency. CONCLUSION: Receiving SPPC was associated with better child quality of life. However, the paucity and low certainty of the evidence precluded any firm recommendations about SPPC practice. Larger collaborative networks and greater consensus regarding SPPC research standards are needed.

Research abstracts