Physicians and nurses (MDs/ RNs) struggle to communicate effectively about palliative and end-of-life (PC/EOL) care with parents when their child's prognosis is poor, and rarely collaborate as a team in this difficult process. The aim of this study was to develop and evaluate training strategies for MD/RN dyads to collaboratively deliver a PC/EOL communication intervention called, Communication Plan: Early through End of Life (COMPLETE), to 24 parents of children with brain tumors. During Phase I, training strategies were based on principles from a Relationship Centered Care perspective. The training was delivered to 3 pediatric neuro-oncologists and 5 oncology nurses by a team of parent advisors and a team of expert consultants (i.e., medical ethics, communication, and PC/EOL). Our 2-day training included 4 modules: family assessment, goal directed treatment planning, anticipatory guidance, and staff communication and follow-up. Each module included: didactic content, small group reflective sessions, and communication skills practice with bereaved parent. Evaluations included dichotomous (agree/disagree) ratings and qualitative comments on didactic content, small group reflection, and skills practice for each module. Helpful aspects of our training strategies included: parent advisers' insights, emotional presence, emphasis on hope and non-abandonment messages, written materials to facilitate PC/EOL communication, and a team approach. For this presentation we will discuss insights gained regarding use of a parent advisory panel, strategies to help the MD/RN dyads feel comfortable working as a team to communicate with parents, and ways to improve training procedures and our intervention.
Pediatric oncology physicians and nurses found PC/EOL care communication training strategies and content as helpful and useful. During Phase II of our study, our PC/EOL care communication intervention is planned to be implemented and evaluated with 24 enrolled parents. If effective, this intervention will facilitate integration of quality PC care practices into the care of children with brain tumors.