Background: Preparedness to initiate end-of-life (EoL) discussions is a confronting and daunting task for all healthcare professionals. We conducted a group interview to explore healthcare professionals’ experiences of preparing for EoL discussions with the patient and their family in a pediatric context. Aim: To identify what pediatric healthcare professionals consider important when preparing for an EoL discussion. Methods: A qualitative design using a group interview. Two open-ended questions were asked: (1) How could preparedness to initiate EoL care discussions between healthcare professionals and the patient and family be enhanced? (2) What education resources/strategies could be developed to support preparation for EoL care discussions? Setting/Subjects: Healthcare professionals, including medical, nursing, and allied health professionals working in pediatric palliative care settings across Queensland, Australia. These settings included major tertiary hospitals, general practice, community, and nongovernment organizations. A convenience sample of 36 healthcare professionals consented to participate in the study. Results: An analysis of the data identified seven themes that had relevance for preparing for an EoL discussion: ommunication, healthcare professional perspectives, interdisciplinary team role, patient and family perspectives, practical issues, addressing mistakes, and healthcare professional education. Conclusions: Pediatric healthcare professionals confirmed that gaps exist in preparing for an EoL discussion. The findings support a need for further research in two areas. First, a systematic review of interdisciplinary resources that are available to support healthcare professionals in preparing for EoL discussions is recommended. Second, evidencebased interdisciplinary interventions to support pediatric EoL discussions need to be developed and evaluated.
Journal of Palliative Medicine / Vol. Article in press