Specialized palliative care (SPC) may be beneficial for children and adults with advanced cardiac or respiratory disease, but there hasn’t been much SPC research in this field. For a study, researchers sought to ascertain the attitudes of pediatric cardiologists and respirologists (pediatric physicians) toward SPC and their methods for referring patients and to compare their findings with those of adult cardiologists and respirologists (adult clinicians).

A survey examining SPC referral practices and beliefs was distributed to pediatric and adult clinicians. Descriptive statistics were used to compile the responses. Finally, the replies from pediatric and adult doctors were contrasted using Pearson’s chi-square test.

A total of 989 out of 1,759 people responded, or 56% of the total; 87 (9%) of them were pediatric doctors. In comparison to adult physicians, pediatric doctors were more likely to be female, work in an academic setting, and encounter fewer patient fatalities (P<0.001). In comparison to adult clinicians, pediatric clinicians reported having better access to SPC clinical nurse specialists, spiritual care experts, and grief counselors (P<0.001). While adult doctors often refer after disease-directed medicines have been discontinued, pediatric clinicians prefer to refer to SPC earlier (P<0.001). In the opinion of the majority of professionals, patients have unfavorable opinions of the term “palliative care.” Less adult doctors were happy with SPC availability (74 vs. 47%; P<0.001), despite the fact that most clinicians were satisfied with SPC quality (73-82%). SPC was perceived as prioritizing cancer patients by fewer pediatric doctors (13 vs. 53%; P<0.001).

Opinions and referral methods to SPC among pediatric and adult doctors ranged significantly. It may reflect particular pediatric disorders, clinician characteristics, care philosophies, or service accessibility.

Reference: jpsmjournal.com/article/S0885-3924(22)00829-6/fulltext