Meta-ethnography of experiences of early discharge, with a focus on paediatric febrile neutropenia

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PURPOSE (STATING THE MAIN PURPOSES AND RESEARCH QUESTION): Many children have no significant sequelae of febrile neutropenia. A systematic review of clinical studies demonstrated patients at low risk of septic complications can be safely treated as outpatients using oral antibiotics with low rates of treatment failure. Introducing earlier discharge may improve quality of life, reduce hospital acquired infection and reduce healthcare service pressures. However, the review raised concerns that this might not be acceptable to patients, families and healthcare professionals.

METHODS: This qualitative synthesis explored experiences of early discharge in paediatric febrile neutropenia, including reports from studies of adult febrile neutropenia and from other paediatric conditions. Systematic literature searching preceded meta-ethnographic analysis, including reading the studies and determining relationships between studies, translation of studies and synthesis of these translations.

RESULTS: Nine papers were included. The overarching experience of early discharge is that decision-making is complex and difficult and influenced by fear, timing and resources. From this background, we identified two distinct themes. First, participants struggled with practical consequences of treatment regimens, namely childcare, finances and follow-up. A second theme identified social and emotional issues, including isolation, relational and environmental challenges. Linking these, participants considered continuity of care and the need for information important.

CONCLUSIONS: Trust and confidence appeared interdependent with resources available to families-both are required to manage early discharge. Socially informed resilience is relevant to facilitating successful discharge strategies. Interventions which foster resilience may mediate the ability and inclination of families to accept early discharge. Services have an important role in recognising and enhancing resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalSupportive care in cancer
Early online date29 Dec 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Dec 2017

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2017.


  • Journal Article
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