Nurses’ experiences of providing palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions: an integrative review

Bernie Reid, Patricia Brogan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Paediatric palliative care (PPC) has evolved in response to the increased prevalence of children who have been diagnosed with life-limiting conditions. Nursing care is a fundamental aspect of PPC and understanding nurses’ experiences is imperative to the provision and development of quality holistic child-centred services.

Aim: To review nurses’ experiences of providing palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions.

Method: A systematic database search of the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) Complete, Ovid Medline and Scopus was undertaken. Key words consisted of ‘palliative care’ or ‘terminal care’ or ‘dying’ or ‘end-of-life care’ and children* or paediatric* or pediatric* and ‘nurs* experience*’ or ‘nurs* view*’ or ‘nurs* perspective*’ or ‘nurs* feeling*’. Inclusion criteria included peer-reviewed studies published between 2016–2023 in the English language.

Findings: A thematic approach was adopted with the 11 papers selected for the review and each study critically analysed to identify three recurring themes. The themes included: ‘a broken wreck’, ‘makes a life worth living’ and‘ challenges in doing 100%’. Findings point to mixed feelings among nurses in providing PPC and suggest that nurses experience emotional distress when caring for dying children. With appropriate supports and inspiration from their paediatric patients, nurses are determined to provide a ‘good death’ for the children in their care. Nevertheless, the perceived lack of knowledge and experience , communication struggles and personal dilemmas can be predisposing factors in triggering negative experiences among nurses when providing palliative care for children with life-limiting conditions.

Recommendations: Education and policy development is required to meet the practice needs and support the emotional needs of nurses engaged in PPC. Further research is required to generate PPC evidence-based nursing interventions. In doing so, high quality PPC practice will be promoted, thereby ensuring high quality PPC for the children and their families.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-224
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Palliative Nursing
Volume30
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 MA Healthcare Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • end of life
  • life-limiting condition
  • nursing care
  • paediatric palliative care

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