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Pediatric Palliative Care Communication: Resources for the Clinical Nurse Specialist

Pirie, Alison MSN, RN

doi: 10.1097/NUR.0b013e31825aeb97
Feature Article

Purpose/Objectives: The purpose of this article was to highlight the lack of communication skills pediatric practitioners have when delivering bad news and introducing pediatric palliative care to a family with a child with a life-limiting condition. Fortunately, innovative tools and guidelines have been appearing in recent literature, and the clinical nurse specialist has an opportunity to implement these communication tools by utilizing her core competencies.

Background/Rationale: Over 10 years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization individually prepared definitions and mandates concerning the importance of pediatric palliative care. Approximately 450,000 children are currently living at home with chronic, life-limiting health conditions, many of whom are not receiving any palliative care services.

Description of the Project: Literature about practitioner communication practices and resources was reviewed.

Outcome: Advances are being made in pediatric palliative research, guidelines, and clinical tools.

Interpretation: New advances are not being disseminated to the pediatric healthcare practitioner population, leaving practitioners with inadequate education and preparation for implementing pediatric palliative care.

Implications: The clinical nurse specialist has the ability to cross through the spheres of influence by providing holistic care, implementing system changes, and by using a communication framework when working with palliative care patients and families.

Author Affiliation: School of Nursing/Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

The author reports no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Alison Pirie, MSN, RN, School of Nursing/Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins University, 1800 Orleans St, Baltimore, MD 21287 (

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.