French study reveals clear need for training professionals in perinatal palliative care

Categories: Research.

Background information in the abstract reads as follows: When an incurable foetal condition is detected, some women (or couples) would rather choose to continue with the pregnancy than opt for termination of pregnancy for medical reasons, which, in France, can be performed until full term. Such situations are frequently occurring and sometimes leading to the implementation of neonatal palliative care. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the practices of perinatal care by French professionals in this context; to identify the potential obstacles that might interfere with the provision of appropriate neonatal palliative care; and, from an opposite perspective, to determine the criteria that led, in some cases, to offer this type of care for prenatally diagnosed lethal abnormality.

The study, Barriers in referring neonatal patients to perinatal palliative care: a French multicenter survey was undertaken through an email survey sent to 434 maternal-foetal medicine specialists and foetal care paediatric specialists at 48 multidisciplinary centres for prenatal diagnosis. 

Results reveal that the mean proportion of foetal abnormalities eligible for palliative care at birth was estimated at 19.30%. The degree of diagnostic certainty appeared to be the most influencing factor in the information provided to the parents with regard to potential neonatal palliative care. 92,5% of professionals surveyed supported considering the practice of palliative care as a regular option to propose antenatally.

The authors concluded that given that 92.5% of the investigated perinatal professionals agreed with always informing the women about the option of neonatal palliative care in cases of lethal foetal abnormality, it is therefore essential to discuss and provide a framework for implementation of Perinatal Palliative Care.

Click here to access the abstract and the free PubMed Central article.