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Priority 2

What methods of communication are most effective between patients, carers and healthcare providers on a general paediatric inpatient unit (GPIU)? 

Concrete Wall

Communication, both verbal and written, is an essential component of paediatric hospital care, and paediatric patients in GPIUs represent a unique challenge to healthcare professionals and how they communicate health information. As these children and youth are often cared for by multi-disciplinary teams, information must be delivered to multiple persons and be communicated in ways that are understandable to all parties involved. 

Gaps in Evidence

Prior research has shown the effectiveness of some communication interventions in hospital, but the use of these interventions is highly variable and evidence supporting their utility is lacking. Additionally, the effectiveness of some communication interventions in hospital has been limited to specific paediatric populations (e.g. pre-term infants), settings of care (e.g. end of life), or those with life-limiting conditions. It remains unclear which methods of communication are truly effective across GPIUs. To address this evidence gap, future research is needed to identify the most effective methods of communication between patients, parents/caregivers, and healthcare providers in paediatric care. 

Directions for Future Research

Potential research questions and/or directions for future studies include, but are not limited to: 

Informal and Formal Methods of Communication

  • How should clinicians manage synchronous and asynchronous communication with families?

  • What measures are relevant to evaluate communication effectiveness between healthcare providers and patients (e.g. parent satisfaction, length of stay, rate of medical errors)?

  • What communication strategies are most effective for admission and discharge processes for families?

  • Would care be better and would families learn more from informal interactions with other families of children with similar conditions?

  • How can clinicians communicate with families in a teaching environment that does not add anxiety for the family or the learner?

  • How are linguistic and/or cultural differences accounted for and integrated into communication strategies between patients and their carers on the GPIU?

Integrating Family into Care

  • What should multi-dimensional meetings between healthcare providers and families of paediatric patients look like?

  • How should clinicians tailor communication methods to the preferences of paediatric patients and their families?

  • How do families prefer to be given information, and by who (e.g. nurse, physician, trainee)?

  • How should confidentiality for adolescent patients be maintained and preserved on the inpatient unit?

  • How should families be taught to observe/share in the communication process?

Length and Frequency of Interactions with Healthcare Providers

  • How frequently should the families of paediatric patients expect to be updated by healthcare professionals?

  • How can opportunities be increased for families of paediatric patients to communicate with the team caring for their child?


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