Palliative care in the pediatric ICU: challenges and opportunities for family-centered practice

J Soc Work End Life Palliat Care. 2012;8(4):297-315. doi: 10.1080/15524256.2012.732461.


The culture of pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) is focused on curative or life-prolonging treatments for seriously ill children. We present empirically-based approaches to family-centered palliative care that can be applied in PICUs. Palliative care in these settings is framed by larger issues related to the context of care in PICUs, the stressors experienced by families, and challenges to palliative care philosophy within this environment. Innovations from research on family-centered communication practices in adult ICU settings provide a framework for development of palliative care in PICUs and suggest avenues for social work support of critically ill children and their families.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric / organization & administration*
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration*
  • Patient Transfer
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Pediatrics / organization & administration
  • Professional Role
  • Professional-Family Relations*
  • Terminal Care / organization & administration
  • United States