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J Palliat Med. 2011 Nov;14(11):1217-23. doi: 10.1089/jpm.2011.0070. Epub 2011 Aug 8.

Massachusetts' Pediatric Palliative Care Network: successful implementation of a novel state-funded pediatric palliative care program.

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Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.



U.S. children with life-limiting illness face barriers to accessing palliative care. In 2006, Massachusetts signed into law a statute providing for the creation and funding of the Pediatric Palliative Care Network (PPCN). This innovative, exclusively state-funded program provides comprehensive direct and consultative community-based pediatric palliative care services including: (1) pain and symptom management, (2) case management and assessment, (3) social services, counseling, and bereavement services, (4) volunteer support services, (5) respite services, and (6) complementary therapies. Provision of care is through a network of state-licensed hospice programs, and an array of professional and volunteer services.


To describe Massachusetts' experience in implementing a novel pediatric palliative care program.


Enrollment and service trends were identified using Massachusetts Department of Public Health administrative data. Responses to a written family satisfaction survey provided to each family enrolled on PPCN are summarized.


In fiscal year 2010, PPCN partnered with 11 hospice programs to provide services to 227 children with life-limiting illness. A total of $680,850 (86.7%) of state funding went to direct contract funds for hospices. Admitting diagnoses included cancer (30%), chromosomal abnormalities (17%), neurodegenerative disorders (15%), and other (38%). There were 11 deaths, 100% of which occurred in the family's requested location. Median length of stay on service prior to death was 233 days. Families most commonly implemented psychosocial and case management services, followed by complementary therapies, and volunteer services.


Successful implementation of a statewide pediatric palliative care program as modeled in Massachusetts is highly feasible at relatively low cost.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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