Taboo words in pediatric oncology: Communication experiences of nurses and physicians with dying children and their families

AYDIN A., Savaş E. H., Bingöl H., KEBUDİ R.

European Journal of Oncology Nursing, vol.68, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 68
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ejon.2023.102466
  • Journal Name: European Journal of Oncology Nursing
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, ASSIA, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Psycinfo
  • Keywords: Advance care planning, Communication, Death taboo, End-of-life care, Oncology, Palliative care, Pediatrics, Qualitative
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Purpose: Despite the numerous benefits of effective communication between patients, families, and healthcare professionals, there are still substantial barriers and communication challenges. This study investigated the experiences of nurses and doctors working in different pediatric hematology-oncology units in Turkey communicating with children and their parents about end-of-life issues. Method: This qualitative study was conducted with twenty-four physicians and nurses. A descriptive phenomenological approach was used. Data were analyzed using Braun and Clarke's six-step reflexive thematic analysis. The MAXQDA software was used to facilitate data management. Results: The findings revealed three main themes describing end-of-life communication experiences of physicians and nurses: Avoiding communication with a dying child, Everyone knows but nobody talks, and Complicating aspects of the setting. Conclusions: Communication with dying children and their families is essential. However, multiple barriers remain for healthcare providers to do so. That issue burdens the child and their family more during the end-of-life, which is already a challenging experience to handle. Healthcare professionals need urgent training in communication with the dying children and their families.