Human suffering: the need for relationship-based research in pediatric end-of-life care


Human suffering: the need for relationship-based research in pediatric end-of-life care


Kane JR; Hellsten MB; Coldsmith A


Journal Of Pediatric Oncology Nursing




Child; Humans; Interpersonal Relations; Health Services Needs and Demand; Child Psychology; Sick Role; Spirituality; Stress; quality of life; Adaptation; Psychological; social support; Neoplasms/complications; Nursing Research/organization & administration; Oncologic Nursing/organization & administration; Terminal Care/organization & administration/psychology; Pediatric Nursing/organization & administration; Psychological/etiology/nursing/psychology


Children living with and dying from advanced cancer and their families experience significant suffering. The cure of disease and the relief of suffering are dual moral obligations of our professions. To relieve suffering, health care providers must understand the multiple dimensions of the person who suffers and the complex set of relationships within the natural and the clinical social networks. Pediatric oncology research must include appropriately designed studies with sound methodology and measurement strategies to test and refine theories that account for the link between human relationships and the relief of suffering. Studies should assess as many theoretical models as possible, including the social network, perceptions of support, and provider-recipient interactions; their physical, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual concomitants; and their impact on medical decision making and health outcomes. Future directions in pediatric end-of-life care research must also include evaluating social and spiritual interventions developed on the basis of solid hypotheses regarding the positive and negative influences of interpersonal dynamics on the processes that mediate between suffering and well-being.


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Kane JR; Hellsten MB; Coldsmith A, “Human suffering: the need for relationship-based research in pediatric end-of-life care,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed December 10, 2023,