Pediatric Palliative Care

  • Michelle R. BrownEmail author
  • Barbara Sourkes
Part of the Issues in Clinical Child Psychology book series (ICCP)


The field of pediatric palliative care offers unique opportunities for pediatric psychologists to participate in enhancing the quality of life of children living with life-threatening conditions. As a member of a comprehensive care team, the role of a palliative care provider is broad and varied depending on the needs of the child and family, which include symptom management, assistance with medical decision-making, establishing goals of care, end-of-life planning, and bereavement follow-up. Consultation and support for staff and trainees are additional vital roles of the palliative care team. Whether serving as a formal member of the palliative care team or working in collaboration, contributions specific to the pediatric psychologist include psychological assessment, individual and/or family psychotherapy, and guidance to the family and medical team. Central to and cutting across all roles are the cultural and spiritual aspects of care, which are often intertwined with the ethical dilemmas that arise when children, families, and medical teams struggle to determine “the right thing to do” when facing the possibility of death. Multiple barriers to the provision of optimal palliative care exist across all levels of the health-care system. Among them is the still prevalent view that curative and palliative care are mutually exclusive when, in fact, concurrent care is the foremost goal.


Pediatric palliative care End of life Quality of life Decision-making Goals of care Concurrent care Uncertain prognosis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital StanfordPalo AltoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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