Impact of specialized pediatric palliative care programs on communication and decision-making
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OBJECTIVE: To summarize and analyze the impact of specialized pediatric palliative care (SPPC) programs on communication and decision-making for children with life-threatening conditions. METHODS: Our search strategy covered MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, CINAHL, Scopus, and Embase through September 2018. RESULTS: We reviewed 13 studies analyzing the impact of SPPC programs on communication and decision-making using a wide range of outcome indicators. Study quality was poor in 58% of included papers. SPPC programs improved communication and decision-making between families and healthcare professionals (HCPs), within and between families, and among HCPs. CONCLUSION: SPPC programs generally support and improve communication and decision-making for children with life-threatening conditions, their families and associated HCPs. Families referred to an SPPC program had more discussions with HCPs on a broad variety of topics. However, data on communication with children, siblings, and other family members was scarce and of poor quality. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: More research on SPPC program efficacy is needed from the perspective of the ill child, as well as about barriers to end-of-life discussions and the specific aspects of SPPC programs responsible for improving outcomes.
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