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Who needs and continues to need paediatric palliative care? An evaluation of utility and feasibility of the Paediatric Palliative Screening scale (PaPaS)

Journal title
BMC palliative care
Publication year
Chong, P. H.; Soo, J.; Yeo, Z. Z.; Ang, R. Q.; Ting, C.

BACKGROUND: While the populations of children who can benefit from paediatric palliative care (PPC) have been broadly defined, identifying individual patients to receive PPC has been problematic in practice. The Paediatric Palliative Screening scale (PaPaS) is a multi-dimensional tool that assesses palliative care needs in children and families to facilitate timely referrals. This study evaluates its use to manage new referrals and ongoing review of patients receiving home-based PPC in Singapore. METHODS: Using a retrospective cohort study design, 199 patients admitted to receive PPC via clinician screening were scored using PaPaS. Eighty-four patients in two groups were scored again at one of two following milestones: one-year service continuation mark or point of discharge before a year. Accuracy measures were compared against clinical assessment. RESULTS: 96.98% of patients scored 15 and above on admission (indicating need for PPC). Patients assessed at following milestones were effectively stratified; those who continued to receive service after 1 year scored significantly higher (M?=?19.23) compared to those who were discharged within a year (M?=?7.86). Sensitivity and specificity for PaPaS were calculated at 82.54 and 100% respectively. Overall congruence with clinician-based decisions supports the utility of PaPaS as a screening tool in PPC. Recommendations to improve the scale further are proposed. CONCLUSION: The PaPaS is a practical screening tool that signposts PPC needs within the clinical setting. This facilitates early referrals to PPC, without having to specify individual prognoses that are often uncertain. Other benefits include optimised continuity of care and implications for resource allocation.

Research abstracts