Defining a "Good Death" in Pediatric Oncology: A Mixed Methods Study of Healthcare Providers
Delivering optimal end-of-life (EOL) care to children and adolescents is a healthcare priority, yet relatively little is known about what patients, families, and healthcare providers (HCPs) consider "best" practices. The objective of this study was to identify factors that pediatric oncology HCPs consider important for EOL care. This was a cross-sectional mixed methods study. Participants were multidisciplinary pediatric oncology staff who completed surveys and participated in semi-structured
... n semi-structured qualitative interviews. Interviews were analyzed using a modified grounded theory approach. Provider statements were compared based on years of experience (≤10 or >10 years) and discipline (non-physician or physician). A total of n = 19 staff (74% female) enrolled, including physicians (n = 8), advanced practice providers (n = 4), nurses (n = 2), music/art therapists (n = 2), physical therapists (n = 1), educators (n = 1), and chaplains (n = 1). Most HCPs identified communication, symptom control, and acceptance as features of a "good" death. Compared to physicians, non-physicians focused on relationships (67% vs. 33%, p = 0.007); HCPs with ≤10 years of experience (n = 11) more frequently identified the benefits of a multidisciplinary team (74% vs. 26%, p = 0.004). This study identified many common HCP-defined components of "good" pediatric EOL care in addition to some differing perspectives depending on discipline and experience. Incorporating diverse HCP perspectives with those of the patient and family can guide contemporary high-quality pediatric EOL clinical care and education.