Award for Excellence in Paediatric Palliative Care

Young Reaserchers' Award 2016



Università degli Studi di Padova, Padova, Italy 



I am employed at the Veneto Regional Paediatric Palliative Care and Pain Service (directed by Dr Franca Benini), a specialist reference center, where a multi-professional team of palliative care specialists take care of children with incurable diseases and complex needs.


My job responsibilities include:

  • assessing children affected by severe disability due to neuromuscular diseases, brain injury, spinal cord dysfunction, congenital disorders, metabolic disorders and other neurological disorders;
  • providing individual rehabilitation plan in order to achieve the maximum rehabilitation potential and to allow reintegration of the child in his/her community;
  • providing supervision and training of the territorial rehabilitative services throughout the Veneto region.
  • assessing children with acute and chronic pain and providing individual intervention plans. 

I use to work in team with paediatricians, nurses, psychologists and physiotherapists. I am currently involved in research programs regarding management of children affected by neuromuscular disorders and regarding pain assessment and management.


Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1: Needs and Interventions from Diagnosis to Post-Mortem during a Pediatric Palliative Care Program

Di Pede C., Agosto C., De Tommasi V., De Gregorio A., Benini F.

Università degli Studi di Padova, Padova, Italy

Background: While work with adolescent in Pediatric Palliative Care we need to notice their development (psychosocial and cultural). The adolescence it is characterized by social questions, where the adolescent need to belong to some group and their friends are very important. The technological growth changed the adolescent communication, nowadays, within the cyberspace, the adolescents can use the social networks and instant messaging platforms for communication with their friends, so they can keep connected constantly with, regardless of where they are or what are they doing and promote a sense of belonging to a group of friends.



Aim: The aim of this study was to explore the use and the content of social networks by adolescents in palliative care with life limiting conditions and life treatment.


Methods: This is a qualitative study that used the virtual ethnography and the content analysis. In a period of six months, six social networks profiles of adolescents aged 12 - 18 years old were observed. All of posts, photos and comments were decoded for content analysis. The six adolescents have some life limiting disease (as epidermolysis bulhosas, osteogenesis imperfecta and leukaemia).


Results: 41 children and families were reviewed. Clinical classification found was 2 SMA with respiratory distress (SMARD), 37 patients SMA type 1, 1 SMA type 2 and 1 SMA type 3. 36 patients have died. Median age at diagnose was 3 months (1 d-8m). Median delay between diagnose and first PPCD was 6,2 days (1-258d). Median follow up to date PPCU last for 53 days (1 d-1153 d). Most frequent onset symptom was hypotonia. One patient (2,5%) presented at first symptom severe respiratory failure. Median age at onset was 2,5 months. 37 patients (92,5%) received palliative care not only at the end of life. Advanced enteral nutrition was used in 33 patients. 76% received respiratory physiotherapy. 4 patients got invasive ventilation (2 endotracheal tube, 2 traqueostdmy). Night non invasive ventilation (NIV) was used in 8 patients (76%).100% suffer dyspnea.80°/0 got opioids, 15 needed benzodiazepines. At end of life 13 received benzodiazepines and opioids (85% subcutaneous). Median age at death was 6,6 months (22 days-172,5 months). Place of death was home in 67%. Bereavement follow up was performed in 28 patients with no pathologic bereavement process.


Conclusion: The social networks are an important tool to promote care for adolescents with life limiting disease, because the social network encourage the users for the communication with their friends and family, besides of being a space for the adolescents can share their experiences and learn with others. The health care professionals need to work with adolescents and families who are in Palliative Care using those tools to interact with them and promote more care and support.


At work
At work