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Barriers to accessing palliative care for pediatric patients with cancer A review of the literature

Although many of the 16,000 children in the United States diagnosed who are with cancer each year could benefit from pediatric palliative care, these services remain underused. Evidence regarding the barriers impeding access to comprehensive palliative care is dispersed in the literature, and evidence specific to pediatric oncology remains particularly sparse. The purpose of the current review was to synthesize the existing literature regarding these barriers and the strategies offered to address them. The authors completed a literature search using the PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and Web of Science databases. In total, 71 articles were reviewed. Barriers to accessing pediatric palliative care were categorized according to the 4 levels of a modified socioecological model (ie, barriers related to policy/payment, health systems, organizations, and individuals). Major themes identified at each level included: 1) the lack of consistent and adequate funding mechanisms at the policy/payment level, 2) the lack of pediatric palliative care programs and workforce at the health systems level, 3) difficulties integrating palliative care into existing pediatric oncology care models at the organizational level, and 4) the lack of knowledge about pediatric palliative care, discomfort with talking about death, and cultural differences between providers and patients and their families at the individual level. Recommendations to address each of the barriers identified in the literature are included. (C) 2018 American Cancer Society.


Haines, E. R., Frost, A. C., Kane, H. L., & Rokoske, F. S. (2018). Barriers to accessing palliative care for pediatric patients with cancer: A review of the literature. Cancer, 124(11), 2278-2288. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.31265

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