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Family meetings in paediatric palliative care: an integrative review


Objective Our aim was to synthesise the available evidence surrounding the structure, processes and outcomes of family meetings in the paediatric palliative care literature.

Methods We undertook an integrative literature review informed by the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The protocol was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42019138938). Electronic databases were systematically search using keywords and hand searching of reference articles and grey literature was also completed.

Results Ten empirical studies and five theoretical articles were included in the synthesis. Empirical studies provided more information about meeting structure, whereas theoretical articles more frequently described a desired process for planning and undertaking meetings. No articles identified how the success of a meeting was defined or made recommendations for doing so. Despite reports that family meetings are commonly occurring, few articles described outcomes from either the family or clinician perspectives.

Conclusions Family meetings are essential communication strategies commonly used in paediatric palliative care, yet there is little guidance about how meetings should be organised and conducted, who should participate and when they should occur. The limited data available on the outcomes of family meetings suggest improvements are required to meet the needs of families. We present a framework that synthesises the available evidence. The framework offers an overview of the elements to consider when planning for and undertaking family meetings in paediatric palliative care and may be useful for both clinicians and researchers.

  • communication
  • education and training
  • family management
  • home care
  • hospice care
  • hospital care

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