Training health professionals in caring for dying children and grieving families


Training health professionals in caring for dying children and grieving families


Papadatou D


Death Studies




Child; Humans; Palliative Care; Family; Home Nursing; Attitude of Health Personnel; Education; Questionnaires; Death; Child Health Services; Medical; Caregivers/psychology; Continuing/methods; Parent caregivers


In most industrialized countries today, the death of a child is a rare phenomenon. When it occurs, however, it is usually within a hospital setting, after the child has received complex and often long-term medical care aimed at curing or controlling a serious disease. Thus, health professionals are increasingly exposed to the dying process and death of a child with little prior education to help them deal with the particular needs of young patients and minimal preparation in recognizing and handling their personal reactions in the face of death. Comprehensive training programs in pediatric hospice care could help professionals cope with the growing and unique needs of terminally ill children and of their families but these should be differentiated from training programs designed for the terminal care of adult patients. The purpose of this article is to describe and discuss some of the challenges involved in the training of health professionals (pediatricians, nurses, psychologists, social workers, clergy) who wish to provide services to dying children and grieving families. These challenges include (a) definition of educational objectives, (b) selection of teaching methods and content of training, (c) definition and teaching of emotional involvement, (d) support of training participants, (e) promotion of interdisciplinary collaboration, (f) evaluation of the training process and its outcomes, and (g) background and skills of educators. The challenges are discussed and references are made to illustrate how they were met by a 600-hour training program on home-based palliative care for children dying of cancer conducted at the University of Athens.


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Journal Article

Citation List Month



Papadatou D, “Training health professionals in caring for dying children and grieving families,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed November 29, 2023,