Together for Short Lives
Call the Helpline 0808 8088 100

Preparing Pediatric Healthcare Professionals for End-of-Life Care Discussions: An Exploratory Study

Journal title
Journal of palliative medicine
Publication year
Henderson, A.; Young, J.; Herbert, A.; Bradford, N.; Pedersen, L. A.

BACKGROUND: Preparedness to initiate end-of-life (EoL) discussions is a confronting and daunting task for all healthcare professionals. We conducted a group interview to explore healthcare professionals’ experiences of preparing for EoL discussions with the patient and their family in a pediatric context. AIM: To identify what pediatric healthcare professionals consider important when preparing for an EoL discussion. METHODS: A qualitative design using a group interview. Two open-ended questions were asked: (1) How could preparedness to initiate EoL care discussions between healthcare professionals and the patient and family be enhanced? (2) What education resources/strategies could be developed to support preparation for EoL care discussions? SETTING/SUBJECTS: Healthcare professionals, including medical, nursing, and allied health professionals working in pediatric palliative care settings across Queensland, Australia. These settings included major tertiary hospitals, general practice, community, and nongovernment organizations. A convenience sample of 36 healthcare professionals consented to participate in the study. RESULTS: An analysis of the data identified seven themes that had relevance for preparing for an EoL discussion: communication, healthcare professional perspectives, interdisciplinary team role, patient and family perspectives, practical issues, addressing mistakes, and healthcare professional education. CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric healthcare professionals confirmed that gaps exist in preparing for an EoL discussion. The findings support a need for further research in two areas. First, a systematic review of interdisciplinary resources that are available to support healthcare professionals in preparing for EoL discussions is recommended. Second, evidence-based interdisciplinary interventions to support pediatric EoL discussions need to be developed and evaluated.

Research abstracts