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Module 5: Improving Communication and Strengthening Relationships

Difficult Conversations in Pediatric Palliative Care:
Sharing the Moral Burden of Decision Making with Parents


 Facilitator's Guide Download PDF  Order the video 

This seminar focuses on the challenges faced by practitioners when engaging in communication with parents faced with the extraordinarily difficult decision of whether to withdraw life-sustaining medical treatment. After viewing conversations between practitioners and family members portrayed by actors in the second segment of a three-part videotape, participants will have the opportunity to take part in a debriefing discussion. They will be invited to name the issues and dilemmas faced by practitioners in the videotape and identify those that are most salient in their own practice. Then, they will have the opportunity to contrast the issues identified with those that are raised in the videotaped debriefing discussion. Communication in these highly stressful circumstances will be understood as an invitation to practitioners to share with parents the moral burden of decision making. Practitioners discuss their experience responding to that invitation.

Learning Objectives

Participants will be able to:

  • Articulate salient clinical issues involved in difficult conversations with children and families as they relate to one's own clinical practice.
  • Identify a range of moral, emotional, and spiritual issues that may emerge in difficult conversations with children and families.
  • Recognize the significance and complexity of practitioners sharing the moral burden of decision making with parents in the palliative care setting.

[Go to Activity 1]
[Go to Activity 3]