Palliative Care in the Neonatal Intensive Care Setting: Our Past and Our Future

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Abstract

The purpose of this article was to review the current state of palliative care programs and delivery of palliative care in neonatal intensive care settings. Methods used to search for literature related to this topic included use of CINAHL, PubMed, PsycINFO, and Cochrane databases. Articles selected were published within the previous 10 years unless considered sentinel to the topic and were specific in part or whole to neonates. Research samples include infants, their parents, nursing students, and healthcare workers. The themes that emerged from this search include palliative care program development for neonatal intensive care units and their documented use, barriers to palliative care delivery in neonatal intensive care units, and parent needs and perceptions of palliative care in the neonatal intensive care unit. Implications from this search focus on gaps in research thus far, such as the relationship between lack of professional education, both in undergraduate and graduate nursing programs and the clinical setting as continuing education, and its link to less than desirable palliative care delivery.

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