Impaired mobility associated with an increased likelihood of death in children: A systematic review

Sally Nissen, Edward Purssell, Karen Shaw, Cara Bailey, Nikolaos Efstathiou, Carolyn Dunford

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Improved identification of children with an increased likelihood of death can support appropriate provision of integrated palliative care. This systematic review aims to consider immobility and the associated likelihood of death in children with disabilities, living in high-income countries. Two reviewers independently searched MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, OpenGrey and Science Citation Index (1990–2016) for studies that reported hazard ratios (HRs) and relative risk for the likelihood of death related to impaired mobility. Nine papers were included. Three studies reported functioning using the Gross Motor Function Classification Scale (GMFCS) and the remaining studies reported measures of functioning unique to the study. The strongest single prognostic factor for the likelihood of death was ‘lack of sitting ability at 24 months’, HR 44.4 (confidence interval (CI) 6.1–320.8) followed by GMFCS V HR 16.3 (CI 5.6–47.2) and 11.4 (CI 3.76–35.57) and ‘not able to cruise by 24 months’, HR 14.4 (CI 3.5–59.2). Immobility is associated with an increased risk of dying over study periods, but different referent groups make clinical interpretation challenging. Overall, the quality of evidence is moderate. The findings suggest that immobility can support identification of children who may benefit from integrated palliative care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Child Health Care
Early online date9 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Oct 2017


  • systematic review
  • disability
  • functioning
  • immobility
  • Child health
  • palliative care


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