The nursing dimension of providing palliative care to children and adolescents with cancer.
Palliative care for children and adolescents with cancer includes interventions that focus on the relief of suffering, optimization of function, and improvement of quality of life at any and all stages of disease. This care is most effectively provided by a multidisciplinary team. Nurses perform an integral role on that team by identifying symptoms, providing care coordination, and assuring clear communication. Several basic tenets appear essential to the provision of optimal palliative care. First, palliative care should be administered concurrently with curative therapy beginning at diagnosis and assuming a more significant role at end of life. This treatment approach, recommended by many medical societies, has been associated with numerous benefits including longer survival. Second, realistic, objective goals of care must be developed. A clear understanding of the prognosis by the patient, family, and all members of the medical team is essential to the development of these goals. The pediatric oncology nurse is pivotal in developing these goals and assuring that they are adhered to across all specialties. Third, effective therapies to prevent and relieve the symptoms of suffering must be provided. This can only be accomplished with accurate and repeated assessments. The pediatric oncology nurse is vital in providing these assessments and must possess a working knowledge of the most common symptoms associated with suffering. With a basic understanding of these palliative care principles and competency in the core skills required for this care, the pediatric oncology nurse will optimize quality of life for children and adolescents with cancer.
Docherty, SL; Thaxton, C; Allison, C; Barfield, RC; Tamburro, RF
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