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A good death in the child with life shortening illness: A qualitative multiple-case study

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/12/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Palliative Medicine
Issue number10
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)1878-1888
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date5/07/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Understanding what makes a ‘good death’ in the child with life shortening illness is important, as it informs appropriate and effective end-of-life care. Above play, peer contact and opportunities for assent, prior literature review found meeting needs and managing control were critical. The influence of disease types, location of death and palliative care support remains unclear.

Explore how a good death for children can occur in the real-world context and identify factors influencing it.

A qualitative multiple-case study. The case was defined as family and professional caregivers of children who died, stratified across disease categories (cancer or non-cancer) and palliative care contact. Data collection included (1) interviews, (2) artefacts, (3) clinical notes. Framework Analysis facilitated in-depth within and cross-case analysis.

Singapore health-care context. Respondents included bereaved parents, health and social care providers from hospital, and a community palliative care service.

Five cases were constituted, with eight parents and 14 professionals as respondents. Eight common themes were identified, sub-categorised under three domains and interpreted theoretically: (1) Antecedents: Letting go, Acknowledging the child, Closure (2) Determinants: Suffering, Control, Systems and processes (3) Attributes: Comfort, Dying not prolonged. These factors were consistent across all cases, regardless of individual diagnoses, place of care and palliative care access.

Elements that universally influence a good death are revealed within an ecologically sound and holistic conceptual framework. The impact of attitudes among healthcare professionals, and service delivery at systems level highlighted in this study have immediate applications in practice and policy.