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Hospital Focus Misdirected Toward Parents, Survey Suggests

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, September 28, 2011

The study, conducted by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, shows that asking children about the nursing care they received can help evaluate and identify ways to improve that care.

The survey asked 496 children and youths between the ages of six- and 21-years old who were treated in a free-standing children's hospital two questions: 1) "What do you like most about your nurses and what they do for you, and how does that make you feel?"; 2) "What don't you like about your nurses and what they do for you, and how does that make you feel?" Ryan-Wenger said.

The responses were sorted into 18 categories of nurse behaviors, 12 that were regarded as positive -- such as "gives me what I need when I need it," "checks on me often," "talks and listens to me" and "is nice and friendly to me." These positive behaviors made the children feel cared about, safe, and happy. Six categories were regarded as negative -- such as "wakes me up" or "doesn't give me what I need when I need it", Ryan-Wegner said.

"What we didn't expect was 'checks on me often.' If we sat down as nurses and adults and ask what kids might say that wasn't one of them," Ryan-Wegner says. "It's important because what it said was it makes them feel safer and that the nurse cares about them."

"Parents mean well but they really cannot respond in the same way that their child would to the same kinds of questions. They don't always know what their children are thinking and feeling," Ryan-Wegner says.

One part of the survey asked parents to answer a question as they thought their children would. "Parents were totally off the mark," she says. For example, 33% of the children said they liked it when their nurses talked to them and listened to them, and that never made the parents' lists.

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2 comments on "Hospital Focus Misdirected Toward Parents, Survey Suggests"


Heidi Lee Sinclair, MD, MPH (9/30/2011 at 12:38 PM)
when my son was in the NICU it made me mad that the Neonatologist never met with me until the day my son was being discharged (day 20) never made eye-contact and kept calling me "mom" and didn't call my baby by name either ... i make it a point to always address patient and parent BY NAME - and ask to make sure I have the name right - what they preferred to be called ... i think this is basic respect

Scott (9/28/2011 at 9:51 AM)
Interesting article, I can say that the issue transcends into many care specialties. While I do not work in peds, I can say that a similar event occurs from time to time in Long Term Care. While we do speak of "patient" satisfaciton, some forget that the patient is still there despite their physical and or mental deterioration. Sometimes too the tail (family) wags the dog. Othertimes discussions occur to the "family" about the patient, even when the patient is right there. I know this happens in many areas of healthcare. Also, in LTC it is often asked was the family notified and the answer is always "yes" updates but some forget to update resident who is the one being impacted most.