BACKGROUND: Currently available indicators of quality pediatric palliative care tend to focus on care provided during the end-of-life period rather than care provided throughout the disease trajectory. We adapted a previously developed instrument focused on mothers' perspectives on the quality of end-of-life care and assessed its psychometric properties with mothers and fathers of children with cancer at any stage of the illness.
METHODS: Four subscales were included in the analysis: Connect with Families, Involve Parents, Share Information Among Health Professionals, Support Siblings. The number of items across the four subscales was reduced from 31 to 15. We conducted confirmatory factor analysis, composite reliability, internal consistency, and tests of correlation between the overall scale and subscale totals and a separate question inquiring about overall quality of care. Measurement invariance between mothers and fathers was assessed.
RESULTS: A total of 533 mothers and fathers completed the survey. The four-factor model was confirmed and there were significant correlations between each subscale score and responses to the overall item on care quality. Cronbach's alpha was adequate for the scale as a whole and for each subscale ranging from 0.78 to 0.90. We also found the factor structure, means, and intercepts were similar across mothers and fathers, suggesting the tool can be used by both groups.
CONCLUSIONS: There is evidence for a four-factor structure within a new Quality of Children's Palliative Care Instrument (QCPCI) with demonstrated reliability when used with mothers and fathers of children with cancer. Ongoing assessment of the psychometric properties is needed, including testing in additional populations. However, our initial findings suggest that the QCPCI may be a helpful tool for assessing the quality of palliative care for pediatric patients anywhere along the disease trajectory from the perspective of parents.
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.
BACKGROUND: Specialized pediatric palliative care programs aim to improve quality of life and ease distress of patients and their families across the illness trajectory. These programs require further development, which should be based on how they improve outcomes for patients, families, health care professionals, and the health care system.
OBJECTIVE: To identify and compare definitions of indicators used to assess the impact of specialized pediatric palliative care programs.
DESIGN: The scoping review protocol was prospectively registered on PROSPERO 2017 (CRD42017074090).
DATE SOURCES: MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, CINAHL, Scopus, and Embase databases were searched from January 2000 to September 2018. Eligible studies included randomized controlled trials, experimental studies, or observational studies that compared specialized programs with usual care. Studies were excluded if most care recipients were older than 19 years or the article was not available in English, French, German, or Spanish.
RESULTS: Forty-six studies were included; one was a randomized controlled trial. We identified 82 different indicators grouped into 14 domains. The most common indicators included the following: location of death, length of stay in hospital, and number of hospital admissions. Only 22 indicators were defined identically in at least 2 studies. Only one study included children's perspectives in assessing indicators.
CONCLUSIONS: Many indicators were used to assess program outcomes with little definition consensus across studies. Development of a set of agreed-upon indicators to assess program impact concurrent with family and patient input is essential to advance research and practice in pediatric palliative care.
BACKGROUND: Lack of pediatric palliative care (PPC) training impedes successful integration of PPC principles into pediatric oncology.
OBJECTIVES: We examined the impact of an enhanced implementation of the Education in Palliative and End-of-Life Care for Pediatrics (EPEC®-Pediatrics) curriculum on the following: (1) knowledge dissemination; (2) health professionals' knowledge; (3) practice change; and (4) quality of PPC.
DESIGN: An integrated knowledge translation approach was used with pre-/posttest evaluation of care quality. Setting/Subjects/Measurements: Regional Teams of 3-6 health professionals based at 15 pediatric oncology programs in Canada became EPEC-Pediatrics Trainers who taught the curriculum to health professionals (learners) and implemented quality improvement (QI) projects. Trainers recorded the number of learners at each education session and progress on QI goals. Learners completed knowledge surveys. Care quality was assessed through surveys with a cross-sectional sample of children with cancer and their parents about symptoms, quality of life, and care quality plus reviews of deceased patients' health records.
RESULTS: Seventy-two Trainers taught 3475 learners; the majority (96.7%) agreed that their PPC knowledge improved. In addition, 10/15 sites achieved practice change QI goals. The only improvements in care quality were an increased number of days from referral to PPC teams until death by a factor of 1.54 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.17–2.03) and from first documentation of advance care planning until death by a factor of 1.50 (95% CI = 1.06–2.11), after adjusting for background variables.
CONCLUSION: While improvements in care quality were only seen in two areas, our approach was highly effective in achieving knowledge dissemination, knowledge improvement, and practice change goals.
Given the broad focus of pediatric palliative care (PPC) on the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of children with potentially life-limiting illnesses and their families, PPC research requires creative methodological approaches. This manuscript, written by experienced PPC researchers, describes issues encountered in our own areas of research and the novel methods we have identified to target them. Specifically, we discuss potential approaches to: assessing symptoms among nonverbal children, evaluating medical interventions, identifying and treating problems related to polypharmacy, addressing missing data in longitudinal studies, evaluating longer-term efficacy of PPC interventions, and monitoring for inequities in PPC service delivery.
Purpose: The impact of specialized pediatric palliative care (SPPC) teams on patterns of end-of-life care is unknown. We sought to determine (1) which children with cancer access SPPC and (2) the impact of accessing SPPC on the risk of experiencing high-intensity end-of-life care (intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation, or in-hospital death).
Methods: Using a provincial childhood cancer registry, we assembled a retrospective cohort of Ontario children with cancer who died between 2000 and 2012 and received care through pediatric institutions with an SPPC team. Patients were linked to population-based administrative data capturing inpatient, outpatient, and emergency visits. Children were classified as having SPPC, general palliative care, or no palliative care on the basis of SPPC clinical databases, physician billing codes, or inpatient diagnosis codes.
Results: Of the 572 children, 166 (29%) received care from an SPPC team for at least 30 days before death, and 100 (17.5%) received general palliative care. SPPC involvement was significantly less likely for children with hematologic cancers (OR, 0.3; 95% CI, 0.3 to 0.4), living in the lowest income areas (OR, 0.4; 95% CI, 0.2 to 0.8), and living further from the treatment center (OR, 0.5; 95% CI, 0.4 to 0.5). SPPC was associated with a five-fold decrease in odds of intensive care unit admission (OR, 0.2; 95% CI, 0.1 to 0.4), whereas general palliative care had no impact. Similar associations were seen with all secondary indicators.
Conclusion: When available, SPPC, but not general palliative care, is associated with lower intensity care at the end of life for children with cancer. However, access remains uneven. These results provide the strongest evidence to date supporting the creation of SPPC teams.
Background: Population-based research to identify underserviced populations and the impact of palliative care (PC) is limited as the validity of such data to identify PC services is largely unknown.
Objective: To determine the validity of using such data to identify the involvement of specialized pediatric PC teams among children with cancer.
Design: Retrospective cohort.
Subjects: Ontario children with cancer who died between 2000 and 2012, received care through a pediatric institution with a specialized PC team and a clinical PC database.
Measurements: All patients in the clinical databases were linked to population-based health services administrative databases. Six algorithms were created to indicate the use of formal pediatric PC teams based on the record type (physician billings vs. inpatient records vs. both) and number of eligible codes required (=1 vs. =2). Each was validated against the pediatric PC clinical databases.
Results: The cohort comprised 572 children; 243 were in the clinical databases. Algorithms using only inpatient records had high specificity (80%–95%) but poor sensitivity (21%–56%). Including physician billings increased sensitivity but lowered specificity. The algorithm with overall best performance required =2 physician billing or inpatient diagnosis codes indicating PC [sensitivity 0.79 (95% CI 0.73–0.84), specificity 0.58 (95% CI 0.53–0.64)].
Conclusions: Health administrative data identifies involvement of specialized pediatric PC teams with good sensitivity but low specificity. Studies using such data alone to compare patients receiving and not receiving specialized pediatric PC are at significant risk of misclassification and potential bias. Population-based PC databases should be established to conduct rigorous population-based PC research..
Sibling relationships reflect a unique childhood bond, thus the impact on a sibling when a child is seriously ill or dying is profound. We conducted a prospective, longitudinal, qualitative study over 2 years using interpretive descriptive methodology to understand siblings’ perspectives when a brother or sister was dying at home or in hospital. The insights from the 10 siblings revealed complex experiences, both personal and with the ill child, their families, and peers. These experiences were paradoxically sources of strain and of support, revealing the importance of validation and normalization in assisting siblings to successfully navigate the experience.
Cette étude a pour objectif de décrire les patients ayant bénéficié d'un des 8 programmes de soins palliatifs pédiatriques au Canada en 2002, et d'estimer le nombre d'enfants qui auraient pu bénéficier de ce programme mais n'ont pu y accéder. Presque la moitié des patients était âgée de moins de 5 ans, dont la moitié de moins d'1 an. Les principaux désordres diagnostiqués concernaient le système nerveux, des maladies malignes et des maladies survenant en période prénatale ou les anomalies congénitales. La plupart des enfants sont morts à leur domicile. Les centres dispensant les soins à domicile les plus complets ont le plus grand pourcentage de mort à domicile. Seuls 5% à 12% des enfants qui pouvaient bénéficier de soins palliatifs ont reçu les services d'un des programmes
Le lien entre le Supportive Care Model et les recherches existantes sur les perspectives des parents à propos des soins palliatifs pédiatriques a été exploré en s'appuyant sur une revue de la littérature. Les résultats ont été synthétisés suivant le Supportive Care Model. Ce modèle apparaît comme un guide utile pour la pratique clinique concernant les enfants mourants et leurs familles.