Neonatologists' perspectives of palliative and end-of-life care in neonatal intensive care units

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Determine palliative and end-of-life care practices, barriers and beliefs among US neonatologists, and relationships between practice characteristics and palliative care delivery.

STUDY DESIGN:

A descriptive cross-sectional survey with ordinal measurements. The survey was sent to 1885 neonatologists.

RESULTS:

There were 725 responses (38.5%) with 653 (34.6%) completing the survey. Of those, 58.0% (n = 379) have palliative care teams and 72.0% (n = 470) have staff support groups or bereavement services. Palliative care education was deemed important (n = 623) and needed. Barriers include emotional difficulties, staff disagreements and difficulty forming palliative care teams.

RESULTS:

Palliative care teams or staff bereavement groups were significantly predictive of willingness to initiate palliative care and more positive views or experiences.

CONCLUSION:

Neonatologists believe that palliative care is important. Education and palliative care teams help provide quality care. Exploration of differing views of palliative care among team members is needed.

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