Barbara Sourkes, PhD

  • Barbara M Sourkes



Work and Education


Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, 1976


Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, 1979

All Publications

Opportunities for Quality Improvement in Bereavement Care at a Children's Hospital: Assessment of interdisciplinary staff perspectives JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE CARE Contro, N., Sourkes, B. M. 2012; 28 (1): 28-35


This study examined the current state of bereavement care at a university-based children's hospital from the perspective of the interdisciplinary staff. In all, 60 staff members from multiple disciplines participated in in-depth interviews. In at least two-thirds of the interviews, issues related to the bereavement experience of both staff and families emerged and were consistently identified. Themes included: disparities in bereavement care based on relationship factors; logistics of time and space; geographical distances; the different cultures and languages of families; continuity in family follow-up; needs of siblings and other family members; staff communication, cooperation, and care coordination; staff suffering; and education, mentoring, and support for staff. This evidence-based needs assessment furnishes an empirical basis for the design and implementation of bereavement services for both families and staff. It can serve as a template for evaluation at other children's hospitals and thus contribute to the sound and creative development of the field of pediatric palliative care.

View details for Web of Science ID 000302444100005

View details for PubMedID 22582469

Textbook of Interdisciplinary Pediatric Palliative Care Wolfe, Hinds, Sourkes 2011
Pediatric Palliative Care Textbook of Pediatric Psychosomatic Medicine Consultation on Physically Ill Children Brown, Sourkes 2010
Special Care Considerations for the Dying Child. Handbook of Psychiatry in Palliative Medicine: Second Edition Sourkes, Wolfe 2009
Food, toys, and love: pediatric palliative care. Current problems in pediatric and adolescent health care Sourkes, B., Frankel, L., Brown, M., Contro, N., Benitz, W., Case, C., Good, J., Jones, L., Komejan, J., Modderman-Marshall, J., Reichard, W., Sentivany-Collins, S., Sunde, C. 2005; 35 (9): 350-386

View details for PubMedID 16301200

Armfuls of Time: The Psychological Experience of the Child with a Life-threatening Illness Sourkes 1995
The Deepening Shade: Pyschological Aspects of Life-Threatening Illness Sourkes 1982
The Psychological Impact of Life-Limiting Conditions on the Child Oxford Textbook of Pediatric Palliative Care: Second Edition Aldridge, Sourkes 2012
Principles of Psychotherapy Psycho-Oncology (2nd edition), Strada, Sourkes 2010
Away from Home: Experiences of Mexican American Families in Pediatric Palliative Care. J. Social Work in End-of-Life and Palliative Care Contro, Davies, Larson, Sourkes 2010; 6 (3): 185-204
Palliative Care for the Child with Advanced Cancer Principles and Practice of Pediatric Oncology: Sixth Edition Ulrich, Sourkes, Wolfe 2010
Psychotherapy in the Palliative Care Setting Primary Psychiatry Sourkes, Strada 2009; 16 (5): 34-40
Conducting a Qualitative Culture Study of Pediatric Palliative Care Qualitative Health Research Davies, Larson, Contro, Ablin, Chesla, Sourkes, Cohen 2009; 19: 5-16
Single parents of children with chronic illness: An understudied phenomenon JOURNAL OF PEDIATRIC PSYCHOLOGY Brown, R. T., Wiener, L., Kupst, M. J., Brennan, T., Behrman, R., Compas, B. E., Elkin, T. D., Fairclough, D. L., Friebert, S., Katz, E., Kazak, A. E., Madan-Swain, A., Mansfield, N., Mullins, L. L., Noll, R., Patenaude, A. F., Phipps, S., Sahler, O. J., Sourkes, B., Zeltzer, L. 2008; 33 (4): 408-421


To examine the chronic illness literature and evaluate the impact on single parenting and children and adolescents with chronic illness.We conducted literature reviews of relevant research pertaining to single-parent families on PubMed, Medline, and PsychINFO and also surveyed pertinent book chapters and all of the articles from the Journal of Pediatric Psychology since 1987 for articles, specifically examining the potential associations of single (lone) parenting versus two-parent households on children's psychosocial functioning and the impact of the child's illness on caregiver functioning.While the literature has examined and discussed the stressors associated with parenting a child with an illness, including the impact of illness on finances, family roles, and caregiver burden, few studies have examined single parents of children and adolescents with chronic illnesses and related stressors stemming from being a lone caregiver.There is a dearth of studies examining the association between lone parenting and psychosocial functioning among children and adolescents with chronic illnesses. Specific questions necessitating future investigation are summarized and recommendations are made for future research in this important area of inquiry.

View details for DOI 10.1093/jpepsy/jsm079

View details for Web of Science ID 000254714100010

View details for PubMedID 17906331

Introduction of a Pediatric Palliative Care Curriculum for pediatric residents JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE MEDICINE Schiffman, J. D., Chamberlain, L. J., Palmer, L., Contro, N., Sourkes, B., Sectish, T. C. 2008; 11 (2): 164-170


The Pediatric Palliative Care Curriculum (PPCC) was introduced as a pilot study in response to the published need for increased pediatric education in end-of-life (EOL) care. The PPCC was designed to better train residents in EOL issues so they could become more comfortable and knowledgeable in caring for children and adolescents with life-threatening illnesses.The PPCC consisted of six hour-long sessions run by a clinical psychologist, a licensed social worker, and faculty with experience in EOL care. The curriculum repeated every 6 weeks for 1 year. Residents in the training program at Stanford University rotating through oncology, pulmonology, and pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) were invited to attend. Session topics included: (1) personal coping skills, (2) being a caring professional, (3) recognizing cultural and familial differences, (4) pain management, (5) practical issues, and (6) meeting a bereaved parent. Pretest and posttest surveys with five-point Likert scale questions were used to measure curricular impact.Statistically significant improvement was found in resident self-report of: feeling prepared to initiate do-not-resuscitate discussions (p

View details for DOI 10.1089/jpm.2007.0194

View details for Web of Science ID 000254651600010

View details for PubMedID 18333729

Psychotherapy in pediatric palliative care CHILD AND ADOLESCENT PSYCHIATRIC CLINICS OF NORTH AMERICA Brown, M. R., Sourkes, B. 2006; 15 (3): 585-?


Psychotherapy for children who have life-threatening illness is unique in its challenges and rich in its rewards. Most of these children enter into psychotherapy because of the stress engendered by the illness rather than more general intrapsychic or interpersonal concerns. The facilitation of psychological adjustment is a common goal and brought about by managing anxiety related to great un-certainty and anticipatory grief. Siblings and other family members are incorporated into the work as they play a pivotal role in sustaining and strengthening emotional resources. Critical losses.around control, personal identity, and interpersonal relationships are common themes throughout the therapeutic process.

View details for DOI 10.1016/j.chc.2006.02.004

View details for Web of Science ID 000239131600005

View details for PubMedID 16797440

Hospital staff and family perspectives regarding quality of pediatric palliative care PEDIATRICS Contro, N. A., Larson, J., Scofield, S., Sourkes, B., Cohen, H. J. 2004; 114 (5): 1248-1252


Development of a pediatric palliative care program was preceded by a needs assessment that included a staff survey and family interviews regarding improving pediatric palliative care.Four hundred forty-six staff members and community physicians responded to a written survey regarding comfort and expertise in delivering end of life care. Sixty-eight family members of 44 deceased children were interviewed regarding treatment, transition to palliative care, and bereavement follow-up contact. Frequencies were generated for responses to the staff survey. Five interviewers reviewed the families' narratives and identified frequently occurring themes.Staff members reported feeling inexperienced in communicating with patients and families about end of life issues, transition to palliative care, and do not resuscitate status. Families reported distress caused by uncaring delivery of bad news and careless remarks made by staff members. Staff members reported feeling inexperienced in symptom and pain management and described occasions when pain could have been better managed. Families believed pain had been managed as well as possible despite observing their children suffer. Fifty-four percent of staff members reported that adequate support was not provided for those who treat dying children. Staff members and family members stated their desire for more support. Staff members who described their most difficult experiences caring for a dying child referenced personal pain and inadequate support most frequently.Albeit from different perspectives, staff members and family members shared common concerns and experiences regarding pediatric palliative care. These experiences emphasize the need for additional systematic study, improved education and support for staff members, and continued development of more effective and compassionate delivery of pediatric palliative care.

View details for DOI 10.1542/peds.2003-0857-L

View details for Web of Science ID 000224842700008

View details for PubMedID 15520103

Family perspectives on the quality of pediatric palliative care ARCHIVES OF PEDIATRICS & ADOLESCENT MEDICINE Contro, N., Larson, J., Scofield, S., Sourkes, B., Cohen, H. 2002; 156 (1): 14-19


As a prelude to establishing a Pediatric Palliative Care Program, we solicited information from families about their experiences and their suggestions for improving the quality of end-of-life care. Participants were English- and Spanish-speaking family members of deceased pediatric patients who received care at Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford University Medical Center, Palo Alto, Calif.Sixty-eight family members of 44 deceased children were interviewed regarding treatment, transition to palliative care, and bereavement follow-up. Four clinical social workers and one clinical psychologist reviewed the participants' responses and identified frequently occurring themes.Several areas of unsatisfactory interactions with staff were identified: confusing, inadequate, or uncaring communications regarding treatment or prognosis; preventable oversights in procedures or policies; failure to include or meet the needs of siblings and Spanish-speaking family members; and inconsistent bereavement follow-up. A discrepancy emerged between the high degree of pain described by the families and parents' perceptions that pain had been managed well. Community hospice programs are frequently poorly prepared to serve pediatric patients.There is a need to improve pediatric palliative care. Recurring themes in the family interviews suggest useful issues to consider in the development of a palliative care program.

View details for Web of Science ID 000173079600005

View details for PubMedID 11772185