Conversations About Children When an Important Adult Is at End of Life: An Audit

Jeffrey R. Hanna, Elizabeth Rapa, Mary Miller, Madeleine Turner, Louise J. Dalton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: Health and social care professionals report it challenging to have conversations with families when an important adult in the life of a child is at end of life, often feeling this aspect of care is the responsibility of other colleagues. This study aimed to understand professionals’ perceived role in family-centered conversations as part of routine care at end of life, and how to promote this element of care in clinical practice. Methods: An audit was completed with 116 professionals who work in palliative care including doctors and nurses that attended a 2-day virtual congress. Results: Professionals (73.2%) felt confident about starting a conversation with adult patients at end of life about important children. However, enquiring about relationships with children was largely dependent on the age of the patient. 64.7% of respondents reported signposting families to websites and services that provide family support. Most professionals (76.7%) wanted training to equip them with the skills and confidence to having family-centered conversations at end of life, with videos demonstrating how to provide these elements of care the most preferred option. Conclusions: Short training resources should be developed to equip professionals with the necessary skills toward having conversations about children with patients and relatives in clinical appointments. There is a need for professionals to ask every patient about important relationships with children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-811
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number7
Early online date19 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: There was no direct funding award for conducting this study. Data analysis and manuscript preparation was supported by funding from the Westminster Foundation awarded to University of Oxford.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.


  • social care professionals
  • end of life
  • dying
  • children
  • family-centered care
  • communication
  • healthcare professionals
  • psychosocial support
  • Terminal Care/methods
  • Humans
  • Social Support
  • Adult
  • Death
  • Family
  • Qualitative Research
  • Child
  • Palliative Care/methods
  • Communication


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