Evidence of Improved Quality of Life With Pediatric Palliative Care
Lucy P. O'Quinn and Barbara K. Giambra
Pediatric nurses provide holistic family-centered care for children with life-limiting illnesses while being sensitive to children's growth and developmental needs. To learn how pediatric palliative care programs benefit children and their families, the following clinical question was asked: Among children with a life-limiting illness, does the use of a palliative care program compared with not using a palliative care program improve quality of life for patients and their families? Evidence from two studies found that palliative care services improve quality of life for children with life-limiting illness and their families in the areas of the child's emotional well-being and parental perception of preparation for the child's end of life, resulting in a low grade for the body of evidence. Future research should include high quality studies with larger sample sizes and control groups, and include children's perspectives — from both patients and siblings — to give a more complete picture of how best to improve their quality of life. A reliable tool is needed that includes a spiritual component and sensitive indicators specific to children with a life-limiting illness. Future research using this tool will more fully ans wer how palliative care services improve children's quality of life.