Offering palliative care to pediatric cancer patients markedly reduced their end-of-life suffering, according to research conducted at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH, and her colleagues performed a retrospective study on 119 children who died between 1997 and 2004, after establishment of the pediatric advanced care team (PACT) in 1997 (see article above). They reviewed patient charts and surveyed parents. These data were compared to a baseline cohort of 102 children who died between 1990 and 1997 (J Clin Oncol 26:1717-1723, 2008).
According to the results, 76% of the charts for the study cohort included palliative care options, compared with 54% of the baseline group. The number of children who died in the ICU dropped to 22% from 38% in previous years, most likely because parents were given the option of taking care of a child at home. Finally, do-not-resuscitate orders were documented earlier: at 18 days in the cohort group vs 12 days in the baseline group.
Based on the parent survey, a larger proportion of parents felt more prepared during the child’s last month of life: 29% for the cohort group and 24% for the baseline group.