Parents' experiences of initiation of paediatric advance care planning discussions: A qualitative study

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)


Advance care planning enables parents to discuss their goal and wishes for the future treatment and care of their life limited or life threatened child. Whilst research has identified the barriers clinicians face to initiate such discussions, the views of the parents have received scant attention. This qualitative study, using reflexive thematic analysis aimed to explore parents’ experience of the initiation of their child’s advance care planning discussions, to help provide an understanding to inform future practice. Single interviews were undertaken with 17 non-bereaved and bereaved parents. Parents reported they had engaged with future thinking but needed time before initiating this with clinicians. They identified the need for a trusted professional and time for private, thorough, non-judgemental discussion without feeling clinicians were ‘giving up’. Parents reported that advance care planning discussions were not always aligned to the dynamics of family life. They felt that health professionals were responsible for initiating advance planning conversations according to the families’ individual requirements. There was an apparent lack of standardised protocols to assist paediatric advance care planning discussion initiation.
Conclusion: Initiating advance care planning is a complicated process that needs to be tailored to the specific parent and child situation. Health professionals need to appreciate that parents are key contributors to initiate engagement with advance care planning discussions but that they also require support and care, recognising this may facilitate the building of trust, identified as a key corner stone, of paediatric advance care planning initiation and engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Early online date16 Nov 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2021


  • Advance care planning
  • Children
  • Palliative care
  • Goals of care
  • Initiation


Dive into the research topics of 'Parents' experiences of initiation of paediatric advance care planning discussions: A qualitative study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this