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Pharmacological Management of Symptoms in Children with Life-Limiting Conditions at the End of Life in the Asia Pacific

Journal title
Journal of palliative medicine
Publication year
Chong, L. A.; Chong, P. H.; Chee, J.

BACKGROUND: The provision of pediatric palliative care in Asia Pacific varies between countries and availability of essential medications for symptoms at the end of life in this region is unclear. OBJECTIVE: To determine medications available and used in the management of six symptoms at the end of life among pediatric palliative care practitioners in Asia Pacific. To identify alternative pharmacological strategies for these six symptoms if the oral route was no longer possible and injections are refused. DESIGN AND SETTING: An online survey of all Asia Pacific Hospice Palliative Care Network (APHN) members was carried out to identify medications used for six symptoms (pain, dyspnea, excessive respiratory secretions, nausea/vomiting, restlessness, seizures) in dying children. Two scenarios were of interest: (1) hours to days before death and (2) when injectables were declined or refused. RESULTS: There were 54 responses from 18 countries. Majority (63.0%) of respondents were hospital based. About half of all respondents were from specialist palliative care services and 55.6% were from high-income countries. All respondents had access to essential analgesics. Several perceived that there were no available drugs locally to treat the five other commonly encountered symptoms. There was a wide variation in preferred drugs for treating each symptom that went beyond differences in drug availability or formulations. CONCLUSION: Future studies are needed to explore barriers to medication access and possible knowledge gaps among service providers in the region, so that advocacy and education endeavors by the APHN may be optimized.

Research abstracts