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Children's National Hospital established supportive care initiatives to improve the comfort and quality of life for families of children undergoing treatment for cancer, bone marrow transplant patients, as well as children with complex medical conditions requiring hospital stays and long-term care.

Caring for Families

Through research, clinical programs, and education, our supportive care initiatives positively affect each family’s experience at Children’s National. A team of physicians, nurses, advanced practice nurses, research assistants, psychologists, nutritionists, and pharmacists, coordinates efforts. We have representation from both inpatient and outpatient units, covering many different areas of expertise including neurology, oncology, and stem cell transplantation.


The supportive care group focuses on trials related to the side effects of cancer diagnosis and treatment. These can include pain, fatigue, anxiety, nausea, vomiting, poor appetite and infection, as well as cause delays in treatment.

This important research improves understanding of the side effects associated with cancer treatment, especially from the perspective of the patient; the effectiveness of different medications in preventing side effects; and non-medication approaches to symptom management.

Members participate in national research groups and take part in the initiation and development of new trials here at Children's National and cooperative research through the Children's Oncology Group, industry-sponsored trials, and multi-site protocols.

Clinical Programs

The supportive care group also works to standardize some of the supportive care approaches within the Oncology Division. Over the past several years, the group has written and updated evidence-based best practice guidelines on treatments for fever, mouth care, nausea, and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.

In addition, we have been developing an integrative therapies program to offer non-traditional methods to treat symptoms associated with cancer and its treatment, such as aromatherapy, hypnosis, Reiki therapy and acupuncture.

We partnered with the nonprofit group Healwell to provide massage therapy to patients and parents one evening a week, which has been overwhelmingly popular.


Educating other staff members at Children’s National ensures that clinical programs are successful and patients receive the best evidenced-based care. We also hold education sessions on integrative therapy modalities such as acupuncture and massage.

Parents are partners - Recognizing that care is a partnership between you and your child’s healthcare team, we have created educational tools for each of our guidelines and clinical programs. We work closely with families to maximize their benefit from supportive care resources.