Dignity Therapy in Pediatrics: A Case Series


Dignity Therapy in Pediatrics: A Case Series


Schuelke T; Rubenstein J


Palliative Medicine Reports




pediatric; end of life; pediatric palliative care; legacy; dignity therapy


Objective: To report our first case series of Dignity Therapy modified for a pediatric palliative care population. Background: Dignity Therapy has been utilized successfully with terminally ill adult patients to help restore a sense of dignity and personhood as well as cope with existential distress near the end of life. To our knowledge, there are no published reports of this treatment modality in pediatric patients. Methods: The authors report the experience of a single-center case series of Dignity Therapy in a pediatric palliative care population. The adult Dignity Therapy process was adapted to fit the pediatric population and their families. Modifications are explained in some detail, and specific cases are shared to illustrate the process. The goal of this case series is to report on the application of Dignity Therapy to the pediatric population. Setting/subjects: Inclusion criteria for the cases series consisted of children and their families who were aware that death may occur soon, were English speaking, admitted to the hospital, and receiving care from the palliative care service. Results: Eight patients or their caregivers have completed Dignity Therapy thus far through our program. Four consented to publication of their experience. Three patients were adolescents and told their own story and the story of one younger nonverbal child was told by her family. All four participants reported that the intervention was acceptable and expressed gratitude for their final generativity document. No patient or family reported distress or negative effects from participation in Dignity Therapy. Conclusions: This case series describes how Dignity Therapy is possible with adaptations in the pediatric population, and how Dignity Therapy by proxy may be possible for caregivers of patients unable to tell their own story.


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Citation List Month

September 2021 List



Schuelke T; Rubenstein J, “Dignity Therapy in Pediatrics: A Case Series,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed May 23, 2022, https://pedpalascnetlibrary.omeka.net/items/show/17670.

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