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Towards person-centred quality care for children with life-limiting and life-threatening illness: Self-reported symptoms, concerns and priority outcomes from a multi-country qualitative study

Journal title
Palliative medicine
Publication year
Namisango, E.; Bristowe, K.; Murtagh, F. E.; Downing, J.; Powell, R. A.; Abas, M.; Lohfeld, L.; Ali, Z.; Atieno, M.; Haufiku, D.; Guma, S.; Luyirika, E. B.; Mwangi-Powell, F. N.; Higginson, I. J.; Harding, R.

BACKGROUND: Paediatric life-limiting and life-threatening conditions (life-limiting conditions) place significant strain on children, families and health systems. Given high service use among this population, it is essential that care addresses their main symptoms and concerns. AIM: This study aimed to identify the symptoms, concerns and other outcomes that matter to children with life-limiting conditions and their families in sub-Saharan Africa. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Cross-sectional qualitative study in Kenya, Namibia, South Africa and Uganda. Children/caregivers of children aged 0-17?years with life-limiting conditions were purposively sampled by age, sex and diagnosis. Children aged 7 and above self-reported; caregiver proxies reported for children below 7 and those aged 7 and above unable to self-report. RESULTS: A total of 120 interviews were conducted with children with life-limiting conditions (n?=?61; age range: 7-17?years), and where self-report was not possible, caregivers (n?=?59) of children (age range: 0-17) were included. Conditions included advanced HIV (22%), cancer (19%), heart disease (16%) endocrine, blood and immune disorders (13%), neurological conditions (12%), sickle cell anaemia (10%) and renal disease (8%). Outcomes identified included physical concerns – pain and symptom distress; psycho-social concerns – family and social relationships, ability to engage with age-appropriate activities (e.g. play, school attendance); existential concerns – worry about death, and loss of ambitions; health care quality – child- and adolescent-friendly services. Priority psycho-social concerns and health service factors varied by age. CONCLUSION: This study bridges an important knowledge gap regarding symptoms, concerns and outcomes that matter to children living with life-limiting conditions and their families and informs service development and evaluation.

Research abstracts