Pediatric patients receiving palliative care in Canada: results of a multicenter review

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007 Jun;161(6):597-602. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.161.6.597.


Objectives: To describe the patients who received care from the 8 dedicated pediatric palliative care programs in Canada in 2002 and to estimate the number of children who may have benefited but did not receive services from these programs.

Design: Retrospective review of medical records combined with a survey of each program.

Setting: Seven pediatric palliative care programs based in tertiary care settings and 1 freestanding children's hospice.

Participants: The programs cared for 317 children during 2002, of whom 123 died during that year. An additional 32 children died by the end of 2003.

Main exposure: Pediatric palliative care program.

Results: Nearly half (48.6%) of the patients were younger than 5 years, and almost half of these were younger than 1 year. Primary diagnoses were disorders of the nervous system (39.1%), malignancies (22.1%), and conditions arising in the perinatal period or congenital anomalies (22.1%). Most of the children (43.9%) died at home, with those centers reporting more comprehensive home care services having the highest percentage of home deaths. From a national perspective, between 5% and 12% of the children who could benefit from palliative care received services from 1 of these programs.

Conclusions: Pediatric palliative care programs in Canada care for a diverse population of patients with a wide range of age and disease conditions. Only a small percentage of children who die, however, receive services from these dedicated programs.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Congenital Abnormalities / mortality
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Nervous System Diseases / mortality
  • Palliative Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Retrospective Studies