Key factors affecting dying children and their families


Key factors affecting dying children and their families


Hinds PS; Schum L; Baker JN; Wolfe J


Journal Of Palliative Medicine




Child; Humans; Professional-Family Relations; Communication; Quality of Health Care; Stress; adolescent; bereavement; decision making; Family/psychology; Palliative Care/standards; Terminal Care/standards; Psychological/etiology


The death of a child alters the life and health of others immediately and for the rest of their lives. How a child dies influences parents' abilities to continue their role functions as well as siblings' abilities to make and maintain friendships, and may be the basis for health care providers' decisions to exit direct care roles. Thus, facilitating a "good death"-an obvious care priority for all involved with the dying child-ought also to be a priority for the health of bereaved families and affected health care providers. Making this a care priority is complicated by a serious lack of data, as details of the last hours or weeks of a dying child or adolescent's life are largely unknown. The purpose of this paper is to identify key factors that affect the course of dying children and adolescents and that of their bereaved survivors, and to link those key factors to needed research that could produce clinically relevant findings to improve the care of these patients. Key factors described here include suffering (physical, psychological, and spiritual), communication, decision making, prognostic ambiguities, ability of the seriously ill child to give assent to research participation, and educational preparation of health care providers to give competent end-of-life care.


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Hinds PS; Schum L; Baker JN; Wolfe J, “Key factors affecting dying children and their families,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed November 28, 2023,