The clinical practice guideline palliative care for children and other strategies to enhance shared decision-making in pediatric palliative care: pediatricians' critical reflections

Dunja Dreesens*, Lotte Veul, Jonne Westermann, Nicole Wijnands, Leontien Kremer, Trudy van der Weijden, Eduard Verhagen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Because of practice variation and new developments in palliative pediatric care, the Dutch Association of Pediatrics decided to develop the clinical practice guideline (CPG) palliative care for children. With this guideline, the association also wanted to precipitate an attitude shift towards shared decision-making (SDM) and therefore integrated SDM in the CPG Palliative care for children. The aim was to gain insight if integrating SDM in CPGs can potentially encourage pediatricians to practice SDM. Its objectives were to explore pediatricians' attitudes and thoughts regarding (1) recommendations on SDM in CPGs in general and the guideline Palliative care for children specifically; (2) other SDM enhancing strategies or tools linked to CPGs. Methods Semi-structured face-to-face interviews. Pediatricians (15) were recruited through purposive sampling in three university-based pediatric centers in the Netherlands. The interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim, coded by at least two authors and analyzed with NVivo. Results Some pediatricians considered SDM a skill or attitude that cannot be addressed by clinical practice guidelines. According to others, however, clinical practice guidelines could enhance SDM. In case of the guideline Palliative care for children, the recommendations needed to focus more on how to practice SDM, and offer more detailed recommendations, preferring a recommendation stating multiple options. Most interviewed pediatricians felt that patient decisions aids were beneficial to patients, and could ensure that all topics relevant to the patient are covered, even topics the pediatrician might not consider him or herself, or deems less important. Regardless of the perceived benefit, some pediatricians preferred providing the information themselves instead of using a patient decision aid. Conclusions For clinical practice guidelines to potentially enhance SDM, guideline developers should avoid blanket recommendations in the case of preference sensitive choices, and SDM should not be limited to recommendations on non-treatment decisions. Furthermore, preference sensitive recommendations are preferably linked with patient decision aids.

Original languageEnglish
Article number467
Number of pages11
JournalBmc Pediatrics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2019


  • Clinical practice guideline
  • Shared decision-making
  • Palliative care
  • Children
  • Interviews
  • Qualitative

Cite this