Objective To identify barriers, as perceived by parents, to good care for children with life-threatening conditions. Design In a nationwide qualitative study, we held indepth interviews regarding end-of-life care with parents of children (aged 1 to 12 years) who were living with a life-threatening illness or who had died after a medical trajectory (a maximum of 5 years after the death of the child). Sampling was aimed at obtaining maximum variety for a number of factors. The interviews were transcribed and analysed. Setting The Netherlands. Participants 64 parents of 44 children. Results Parents identified six categories of difficulties that create barriers in the care for children with a lifethreatening condition. First, parents wished for more empathetic and open communication about the illness and prognosis. Second, organisational barriers create bureaucratic obstacles and a lack of continuity of care. Third, parents wished for more involvement in decisionmaking. Fourth, parents wished they had more support from the healthcare team on end-of-life decision-making. Fifth, parents experienced a lack of attention for the family during the illness and after the death of their child. Sixth, parents experienced an overemphasis on symptomtreatment and lack of attention for their child as a person. Conclusions The barriers as perceived by parents focussed almost without exception on non-medical aspects: patient-doctor relationships; communication; decision-making, including end-of-life decision-making; and organisation. The perceived barriers indicate that care for children with a life-threatening condition focusses too much on symptoms and not enough on the human beings behind these symptoms.

Additional Metadata
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035863, hdl.handle.net/1765/128773
Journal BMJ Open
Citation
Brouwer, M., Maeckelberghe, E.L.M., van der Heide, A, Hein, I., & Verhagen, E. (2020). Barriers in care for children with life-threatening conditions: a qualitative interview study in the Netherlands. BMJ Open, 10(6). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2019-035863