Terminal Lucidity in a Pediatric Oncology Clinic

Philip Roehrs, Peter Fenwick, Bruce Greyson, Allan Kellehear, Karalee Kothe, Michael Nahm, Chris Roe, Natasha Tassell-Matamua, Marjorie Woollacott

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


The sporadic occurrence of unusually enhanced mental clarity before death has been documented over time and cultures, and reported in patients with and without neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders, and other neurocognitive deficits, as well as those with nonterminal and terminal conditions. Using a purposive sampling method via existing professional networks, clinical presentations of terminal lucidity in pediatric populations, as witnessed by pediatric oncologists and medical personnel, were solicited. We document clinical presentations suggestive of terminal lucidity in children, which were compiled by their attending physician at two large tertiary pediatric hospitals. Unanticipated and unexplained changes in mental clarity, verbal communication, and/or physical capability in the days and hours before the death of the pediatric patients were observed. Each patient's medical condition should not have allowed for such changes. The phenomenon known as terminal lucidity provides a conceptual framework for these deviations, although more systematic documentation and clinical research is required before definitive conclusions can be drawn.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-60
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease
Issue number1
Early online date21 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

This is a non-final version of an article published in final form in Roehrs, P., Fenwick, P., Greyson, B., Kellehear, A., Kothe, K., Nahm, M., Roe, C., Tassell-Matamua, N., & Woollacott, M. (2023). Terminal Lucidity in a Pediatric Oncology Clinic. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 1-14. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1097/NMD.0000000000001711


  • Terminal lucidity
  • pediatric oncology
  • clinical presentations
  • paradoxical lucidity
  • end-of-life
  • terminal illness
  • children


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