Pediatric palliative care has seen the adoption of several service provision models, yet there is minimal literature describing them. Canuck Place Children’s Hospice (CPCH) is North America’s first freestanding pediatric hospice. This study describes the characteristics of and services delivered to all children on the CPCH program from 1996 to 2010.


A retrospective review of all patient medical records CPCH was conducted. Analyses examined trends and correlations between 40 selected data points: linear regression modeling was used to assess trends over time; t tests were used to examine significant associations between independent means; and the Kaplan-Meier method was used to measure survival probabilities.


The study cohort included 649 children. The majority of diagnoses belonged to cancers (30%), and diseases of the neuromuscular (20%), and central nervous systems (18%). The majority of deaths occurred among the cancer (45%), central nervous system (15%), and metabolic disease groups (14%). By study end date, 24% of children were still alive, 61% died, and 15% transitioned to adult services (more than half of whom were cognitively competent). On average, 1024 days were spent on the CPCH program (median = 301). The majority of inpatient hospice discharges were for respite (82%); only 7% were for end-of-life care. Location of death was shared between CPCH (61%), hospital (22%), and home (16%).


Diagnostic groups largely determine the nature and magnitude of services used, and our involvement with pediatric life-threatening conditions is increasing. Reviews of pediatric palliative programs can help evaluate the services needed by the population served.

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