A systematic review exploring palliative care for families who are forced migrants

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Aims: To explore the palliative care experiences of forced migrant children, families, and healthcare professionals (HCPs) highlighting successes, challenges, and associated practice implications. Design: Systematic literature review. Data Sources: The following search engines were searched from 2008 - 2018: Allied and Complementary Medicine Database, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health, MEDLINE, Embase, ProQuest, Scopus, Psycinfo, and Web of Science. Extensive reference and citation checking were also conducted. Review Methods: Systematic review followed PRISMA guidelines with prepared PROSPERO registered protocol #CRD42019129200. English language qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods studies were eligible for inclusion. Study quality was appraised using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool (MMAT). Results: Eighteen studies (reported in 20 articles) met the final inclusion criteria. Most focused on challenges to care provision. Thematic analysis following methods proposed by Braun and Clarke was undertaken. Five themes were identified: (a) divergence of beliefs and expectations; (b) communication; (c) navigating healthcare systems; (d) burdens and coping strategies; and (e) training and knowledge. A compassionate, collaborative approach with mutual respect crossed themes and was linked to high-quality care. Conclusion: Forced migrant families have multiple needs including physical and emotional support and help in navigating complex systems. Professional interpreters can ease communication barriers when resourced appropriately. Individualized care is crucial to addressing the intricate mosaic of culture such families present. A cultural sensitivity/insensitivity framework is presented that may help guide future interactions and priorities for those working in children's palliative care. Impact: This systematic review explored the international experiences of palliative care for forced migrant families. The findings highlight the plight of families who experience multiple traumas and increased levels of grief and loss through their migration experiences and when caring for a child with a life-limiting condition. This research has potential to have an impact on professionals working with culturally diverse families in all palliative care settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2872-2884
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Advanced Nursing
Issue number11
Early online date31 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


  • children's palliative care
  • cultural humility
  • cultural sensitivity
  • forced migration
  • nursing
  • refugee
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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