Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Paediatric advance care planning in life-limiting conditions: scoping review of parent experiences


Background Advance care planning is considered best practice for children and young people with life-limiting conditions but there is limited evidence how parents’ perceive, understand and engage with the process.

Aim To understand parents’ experience of advance care planning for a child or young person with a life-limiting condition.

Design Scoping review, theoretically informed by Family Sense of Coherence. Parents’ experience was conceptualised in terms of meaningfulness, comprehensibility and manageability.

Data sources Electronic databases Medline, CINAHL and PyschINFO were searched for studies published between 1990 and 2021, using MeSH and broad-base terms.

Results 150 citations were identified and screened; 15 studies were included: qualitative (n=10), survey (n=3) and participatory research (n=2). Parents’ experience of advance care planning was contextualised by their family values and beliefs, needs and goals and the day-to-day impact of caring for their child and family. They valued conversations, which helped them to maximise their child’s quality of life and minimise their suffering. They preferred flexible, rather than definitive decisions about end-of-life care and treatment.

Conclusions Advance care planning which solely focuses on treatment decisions is at odds with parents’ concerns about the current and future impact of illness on their child and family. Parents want advance care planning for their child to reflect what matters to them as a family. Future longitudinal and comparative studies are needed to understand the influence of advance care planning on parental decision-making over time and how social, cultural and contextual nuances influence parental experience.

  • end of life care
  • terminal care
  • paediatrics

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.