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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Palliative Care 1/2015

Priorities for global research into children’s palliative care: results of an International Delphi Study

BMC Palliative Care > Ausgabe 1/2015
Julia Downing, Caprice Knapp, Mary Ann Muckaden, Susan Fowler-Kerry, Joan Marston, on behalf of the ICPCN Scientific Committee
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

JD was the PI for the study, was involved in study design, data collection, analysis and writing up of the study. CK and SFK helped in the study design and data collection tool as a Co-Chair of the ICPCN Scientific Committee as well as contributing to the manuscript writing. MM and JM were part of the working group for the study and contributed to the design and data collection tool. All authors reviewed the paper and contributed to the final version. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



There is an urgent need to develop an evidence base for children’s palliative care (CPC) globally, and in particular in resource-limited settings. Whilst the volume of CPC research has increased in the last decade, it has not been focused on countries where the burden of disease is highest. For example, a review of CPC literature in sub Saharan Africa (SSA) found only five peer-reviewed papers on CPC. This lack of evidence is not confined to SSA, but can be seen globally in specific areas, such as an insufficient research and evidence base on the treatment of pain and other symptoms in children. This need for an evidence base for CPC has been recognised for some time, however without understanding the priorities for research in CPC organisations, many struggle with how to allocate scarce resources to research.


The International Children’s Palliative Care Network (ICPCN) undertook a Delphi study between October 2012 and February 2013 in order to identify the global research priorities for CPC. Members of the ICPCN Scientific Committee formed a project working group and were asked to suggest areas of research that they considered to be important. The list of 70 areas for research was put through two rounds of the Delphi process via a web-based questionnaire. ICPCN members and affiliated stakeholders (n = 153 from round 1 and n = 95 from round 2) completed the survey. Participants from SSA were the second largest group of respondents (28.1 % round 1, 24.2 % round 2) followed by Europe.


A list of 26 research areas reached consensus. The top five priorities were: Children’s understanding of death and dying; Managing pain in children where there is no morphine; Funding; Training; and Assessment of the WHO two-step analgesic ladder for pain management in children.


Information from this study is important for policy makers, educators, advocates, funding agencies, and governments. Priorities for research pertinent to CPC throughout the world have been identified. This provides a much needed starting place for the allocation of funds and building research infrastructure. Researchers working in CPC are in a unique position to collaborate and produce the evidence that is needed.
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