Palliative sedation for children at end of life: a retrospective cohort study


Palliative sedation for children at end of life: a retrospective cohort study


Chen Y; Jiang J; Peng W; Zhang C


BMC Palliative Care




Terminal Care; Child; Children; Death; End of life; Humans; Hypnotics and Sedatives/therapeutic use; Pain; Palliative care; Palliative Care; Palliative sedation; Retrospective Studies; Symptom control


BACKGROUND: Palliative sedation is consciously reducing the patient's consciousness to alleviate the refractory symptoms. However, studies on palliative sedation for children are scarce. We aimed to survey the symptom control and risks for children with sedative therapy in end of life. METHOD: This study was a single center retrospective cohort study. Children who died in the Department of Palliative Medicine were divided into palliative sedation (Group A) and non-palliative sedation group (Group B). The symptoms relief, survival time, and last hospitalization time were compared between two groups. RESULTS: From January 2012 to November 2019, 41 children died in department of palliative care. 24 children were sedated (Group A), meanwhile 17 children were not (Group B). The symptoms in Group A were more complex than Group B (p = 0.013). Overall symptom relief in Group A was higher than that in Group B (24/24, 10/15 p = 0.041). Pain relief rates (7/7, 20/21 p = 0.714), maximum/pre-death opioid dose [30(20, 77.5), 18(9, 45) p = 0.175, 30(20, 60), 18(9, 45) p = 0.208] and pain intensity difference [5(4,6.5), 4(2,6) p = 0.315] did not differ significantly in either groups. After diagnosis, the survival time of the Group A was longer than the Group B (p = 0.047). However, the length of hospitalization before death was similar in two groups (p = 0.385). CONCLUSION: Palliative sedation controls complicated, painful symptoms at the end of life and does not shorten the hospitalization time in children.


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Chen Y; Jiang J; Peng W; Zhang C, “Palliative sedation for children at end of life: a retrospective cohort study,” Pediatric Palliative Care Library, accessed December 4, 2023,