Aim: To identify barriers in the understanding and provision of optimal palliative care to Aboriginal children with cancer by health-care staff, with the aim to support education and training that highlights the importance of cultural, physical and spiritual needs at end-of-life. Methods: Medical and nursing staff working in Departments of Palliative Care, Metabolic Medicine and Haematology/Oncology at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide, South Australia, were asked to complete a survey regarding their experience in treating Aboriginal children receiving palliative care. The survey addressed the understanding of cultural and spiritual needs, barriers encountered and opinions for improved services. Results: The survey was completed by 34 participants. 91.2% (n = 31) had provided care to Aboriginal children who were receiving care during palliative and end-of-life phases for a diagnosis of cancer, 58.8% (n = 20) of which had supported children returning home. Only 23.5% of participants reported comfort in communicating about spiritual/cultural needs with patients and families. There was minimal previous exposure to education (17.6%), yet all participants were interested in future education opportunities. Conclusion: This study highlights a paucity in understanding and comfort among health-care workers in treating Aboriginal children at end-of-life. New models, including the training of staff, educational resources and involvement of Aboriginal health-care workers, may improve care.
- health-care workers
- palliative care