The Impact of Provider Education on Pediatric Palliative Care Referral

J Pediatr Health Care. 2020 Mar-Apr;34(2):99-108. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2019.07.007. Epub 2019 Oct 4.


Introduction: Palliative care can significantly benefit children managing a life-limiting illness; unfortunately, services are still generally reserved for end of life. The aim of this project was to demonstrate how established guidelines and provider education could impact referrals.

Methods: Educational sessions outlining national referral recommendations were offered to providers in the neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric intensive care unit, and Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at a tertiary care facility. Presurveys and postsurveys were administered at the time of the intervention, and referral rates for the organization were collected for 2 months before and 2 months after the intervention.

Results: While there was a clinically significant increase in hospital-wide referral rates, most important was the statistically significant (p < .1) increase in provider comfortability with established guidelines.

Discussion: Palliative care is essential for optimizing quality of life. Provider knowledge of referral criteria ensures that patients receive this service early in their disease trajectory and can benefit from its inclusion within their care team.

Keywords: Pediatric palliative care; provider education; referral.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Child
  • Hospitals, Pediatric / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intensive Care Units, Neonatal*
  • Intensive Care Units, Pediatric*
  • Palliative Care* / standards
  • Palliative Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Palliative Medicine / education*
  • Palliative Medicine / standards
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic / standards
  • Referral and Consultation* / statistics & numerical data