Research Papers:

Advance care planning and outcome in pediatric palliative home care

Jessica I. Hoell, Hannah L. Weber, Stefan Balzer, Mareike Danneberg, Gabriele Gagnon, Laura Trocan, Arndt Borkhardt, Gisela Janßen and Michaela Kuhlen _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:17867-17875. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24929

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Jessica I. Hoell1, Hannah L. Weber1, Stefan Balzer1, Mareike Danneberg1, Gabriele Gagnon1, Laura Trocan1, Arndt Borkhardt1, Gisela Janßen1 and Michaela Kuhlen1

1University of Duesseldorf, Medical Faculty, Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Clinical Immunology, Center for Child and Adolescent Health, Duesseldorf, Germany

Correspondence to:

Michaela Kuhlen, email: [email protected]

Keywords: terminal care; advance care planning (ACP); pediatric palliative care; palliative medicine; medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST)

Received: February 15, 2018     Accepted: March 08, 2018     Published: April 03, 2018


Pediatric advance care planning seeks to ensure end-of-life care conforming to the patients/their families' preferences. To expand our knowledge of advance care planning and “medical orders for life-sustaining treatment” (MOLST) in pediatric palliative home care, we determined the number of patients with MOLST, compared MOLST between the four “Together for Short Lives” (TfSL) groups and analyzed, whether there was a relationship between the content of the MOLST and the patients’ places of death.

The study was conducted as a single-center retrospective analysis of all patients of a large specialized pediatric palliative home care team (01/2013-09/2016). MOLST were available in 179/198 children (90.4%). Most parents decided fast on MOLST, 99 (55.3%) at initiation of pediatric palliative home care, 150 (83.4%) within the first 100 days. MOLST were only changed in 7.8%. Eighty/179 (44.7%) patients decided on a Do Not Attempt Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (DNACPR) order, 58 (32.4%) on treatment limitations of some kind and 41 (22.9%) wished for the entire spectrum of life-sustaining measures (Full Code). Most TfSL group 1 families wanted DNACPR and most TfSL group 3/4 parents Full Code. The majority (84.9%) of all DNACPR patients died at home/hospice. Conversely, all Full Code patients died in hospital (80% in an intensive care setting).

The circumstances of the childrens’ deaths can therefore be predicted considering the content of the MOLST. Regular advance care planning discussions are thus a very important aspect of pediatric palliative home care.

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