The role of parents as participants in medical decisions may significantly affect the child’s health, says study lead author Beth A. Tarini, M.D., clinical lecturer and member of the Child Health Evaluation Research (CHEAR) Unit in the Division of General Pediatrics at at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. She notes that previous research has shown that in adult patients, shared decision- making – between patients and health care providers –improves health outcomes.

For the study, Tarini and her colleagues surveyed parents of children admitted to the general paediatrics ward of a children’s hospital in Seattle during a two-month period. All parents surveyed had children younger than 18, and were given the survey within 24 to 48 hours of admission to the hospital, after the parents had met with physicians and other medical staff to discuss their child’s care.

The self-administered survey asked 130 parents general questions about their hospital experience in order to evaluate their participation in medical decision-making during their child’s hospitalization. The study revealed that parents’ ability to make medical decisions about their child was strongly linked to self-efficacy, or confidence in their ability to interact and communicate with physicians.

Additionally, researchers also found that parents of previously hospitalized children were more involved in medical decision-making. Tarini says this finding suggests that the hospital may be “a learned experience” for parents. “While this study is only the first step to learning more about parental participation in medical decisions, it is a reminder to physicians of the potential modifiability of parents’ involvement in their child’s medical care,” says Tarini.

MEDICA.de; Source: University of Michigan Health System