A Conceptual Model of Barriers and Facilitators to Primary Clinical Teams Requesting Pediatric Palliative Care Consultation Based Upon a Narrative Review

Abstract [from journal]

Background: Despite evidence that referral to pediatric palliative care reduces suffering and improves quality of life for patients and families, many clinicians delay referral until the end of life. The purpose of this article is to provide a conceptual model for why clinical teams delay discussing palliative care with parents.

Discussion: Building on a prior model of parent regoaling and relevant research literature, we argue for a conceptual model of the challenges and facilitators a clinical team might face in shifting from a restorative-focused treatment plan to a plan that includes palliative aspects, resulting in a subspecialty palliative care referral.

Like patients and families, clinicians and clinical teams may recognize that a seriously ill patient would benefit from palliative care and shift from a restorative mindset to a palliative approach. We call this transition “clinician regoaling”. Clinicians may experience inhibitors and facilitators to this transition at both the individual and team level which influence the clinicians’ willingness to consult subspecialty palliative care. The 8 inhibitors to team level regoaling include: 1) team challenges due to hierarchy, 2) avoidance of criticizing colleagues, 3) structural communication challenges, 4) group norms in favor of restorative goals, 5) diffusion of responsibility, 6) inhibited expression of sorrow, 7) lack of social support, 8) reinforcement of labeling and conflict. The 6 facilitators of team regoaling include: 1) processes to build a shared mental model, 2) mutual trust to encourage dissent, 3) anticipating conflict and team problem solving, 4) processes for reevaluation of goals, 5) sharing serious news as a team, 6) team flexibility.

Conclusions: Recognizing potential team level inhibitors to transitioning to palliative care can help clinicians develop strategies for making the transition more effectively when appropriate.