Shifting Perspectives: A Qualitative Study to Understand Family Expectations at the Time of Their Child's Admission

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Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews


PURPOSE: Patient-centered approaches to health care acknowledge the important role that families have in patients' lives. Shared expectations between families and providers have the potential to improve patient and family experience, hospital care, and outcomes. We aimed to understand families' expectations for their child's admission from the vantage point of the start of a hospital stay. METHODS: This qualitative research studied families of hospitalized children at a large pediatric tertiary care center. Family members were approached if their child was admitted to the general pediatrics team, was under 18 years of age, had a length of stay less than 5 days, and had an English-speaking family member present. Semi-structured interviews were conducted by study personnel during the inpatient stay and audio-recorded. Written transcripts were independently coded by multiple investigators to generate codes, which were reconciled via triangulation. Codes were translated into broad themes to provide insight into the views of the study population. An accompanying survey included demographic questions. RESULTS: We conducted 20 interviews with 23 parents of hospitalized children. Participants were 83% female, 35% White, 22% Black, 35% Hispanic, and 70% publicly insured. Participant responses led to identification of 4 themes: 1) setting the stage; 2) building trust and credibility; 3) partnering with families; and 4) maintaining frequent and transparent communication. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that families' priorities and expectations at the start of their inpatient stay focus on issues of trust, partnership, and communication. These concepts may help providers strengthen communication and create more meaningful partnerships with families.

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