Addressing the Need for Palliative Care Training for Pediatric Oncologists

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Three themes emerged from a review of studies on how to address training needs for pediatric oncologists.
Three themes emerged from a review of studies on how to address training needs for pediatric oncologists.

Many pediatric oncologists report a lack of formal training in palliative end-of-life care.1 Despite the widely acknowledged benefit of palliative care in general for reducing patient hospitalization visits and improving quality of life, clinical education and expertise in palliative care varies widely across pediatric oncology programs. A recent review published in BMC Research Notes, assessed interprofessional palliative care education models that might be applicable to pediatric onocology.2

“To our knowledge, this was the first study addressing palliative care education for pediatric oncology clinicians through an interprofessional lens,” wrote the authors. Interprofessional palliative care refers to an integrated model for delivering palliative care that starts from the time of diagnosis and includes a collaborative effort of highly skilled team members from different fields to meet the needs of both the patient and their family.

In this review, the authors identified 13 articles addressing interprofessional education models in an adult, nononcologic population. The studies were then thematically analyzed for core palliative care competencies that could be applied in a pediatric population. Three themes emerged among the analyzed programs.

The first theme was the establishment of effective teaching strategies for content delivery. Altogether the studies suggested that a multimodal approach of both face-to-face and web-based content was the most effective strategy for teaching healthcare providers palliative care.

Secondly, the development of an interprofessional palliative care curriculum promoted communication and interprofessional interaction between team members, allowing for clearer delineation of each team member's role in delivering end-of-life care.

The last theme, emphasized the importance of evaluating the provider's comfort level with delivering palliative care after training as well as evaluating the patient and/or their family's perception of the care received.

References

Brian JW. The need for increased access to pediatric hospice and palliative care. Dimens Crit Care Nurs. 2011;30(5):231-235.

2. Green SB, Markaki A. Interprofessional palliative care education for pediatric oncology clinicians: an evidence-based practice review [published online November 7, 2018]. BMC Res Notes. doi: 10.1186/s13104-018-3905-5

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