Mother-clinician discussions in the neonatal intensive care unit: Agree to disagree

Division of Neonatology, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Journal of perinatology: official journal of the California Perinatal Association (Impact Factor: 2.07). 08/2012; 33(4). DOI: 10.1038/jp.2012.103
Source: PubMed


To compare mothers' and clinicians' understanding of an infant's illness and perceptions of discussion quality in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Study design:
English-speaking mothers with an infant admitted to the intensive care unit for at least 48 h were interviewed using a semi-structured survey. The clinician whom the mother had spoken to and identified was also surveyed. Interviews were audiotaped and transcribed.

A total of 101 mother-clinician pairs were interviewed. Most mothers (89%) and clinicians (92%) felt that their discussions had gone well. Almost all mothers could identify one of their infant's diagnoses (100%) and treatments (93.4%). Mothers and clinicians disagreed on infant illness severity 45% of the time. The majority of mothers (62.5%) who disagreed with clinician estimate of infant illness severity believed their infant to be less sick than indicated by the clinician.

Mother-clinician satisfaction with communication does not ensure mother-clinician agreement about an infant's medical status.

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