The pervasive relevance of COVID-19 within routine paediatric palliative care consultations during the pandemic: A conversation analytic study


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This episode features Dr Katie Ekberg (School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Queensland University of Technology, Australia) and Dr Anthony Herbert (School of Early Childhood and Inclusive Education, Queensland University of Technology, Australia). The urgency of caring for children with complex and serious conditions ensures that care must continue during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. As yet, guidelines for communication with families about the COVID-19 pandemic are not based on direct observational evidence of actual communication practices within palliative care during the pandemic. The current study provides evidence of the pervasive relevance of communication about the COVID-19 pandemic during clinician-family paediatric palliative care consultations.There was a pervasive relevance of serious and non-serious talk about the pandemic. Topics typical of standard paediatric palliative care consultations often led to discussion of the pandemic, including medical discussions and psychosocial and lifestyle discussions.Clinicians (55%) and parents (45%) initiated talk about the pandemic. Clinicians should expect and be prepared for the pervasiveness of talk about the COVID-19 pandemic within standard paediatric palliative care consultations, so that they can be flexible in how they respond to families. Future guidelines should consider the pervasive and varied ways that conversations about a pandemic are raised within and across routine consultations.

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