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Instruments to Measure Outcomes in Pediatric Palliative Care: A Systematic Review
Pediatric palliative care (PPC) is intended to promote children's quality of life by using a family-centered approach. However, the measurement of this multidimensional outcome remains challenging. To review the instruments used to assess the impact of PPC interventions. Five databases (Embase, Scopus, The Cochrane Library, PsychInfo, Medline) were searched. Inclusion criteria were as follows: definition of PPC used; patients aged 0 to 18 years; diseases listed in the directory of life-limiting diseases; results based on empirical data; and combined descriptions of a PPC intervention, its outcomes, and a measurement instrument. Full-text articles were assessed and data were extracted by 2 independent researchers, and each discrepancy was resolved through consensus. The quality of the studies was assessed by using the checklist. Nineteen of 2150 articles met the eligibility criteria. Researchers in 15 used quantitative methods, and 9 were of moderate quality. Multidimensional outcomes included health-related quality of life, spiritual well-being, satisfaction with care and/or communication, perceived social support, and family involvement in treatment or place-of-care preferences. PPC interventions ranged from home-based to hospital and respite care. Only 15 instruments (of 23 reported) revealed some psychometric properties, and only 5 included patient-reported (child) outcome measures. We had no access to the developmental process of the instruments used to present the underlying concepts that were underpinning the constructs. Data on the psychometric properties of instruments used to assess the impact of PPC interventions were scarce. Children are not systematically involved in reporting outcomes.