Because caregivers are a crucial part of a child’s medical care, it is important to understand how to best communicate with them during hospitalization. Qualitative research can elucidate the best strategies for effective parent–provider communication. This study aims to reveal communication styles of neurosurgery team members, and to identify areas for improvement in the future.
Caregivers of children with a newly diagnosed brain tumor requiring neurosurgery were enrolled during their child’s hospitalization. During routine follow-up clinic visits within 3 months after diagnosis and tumor resection, caregivers participated in a semistructured interview, which assessed the quality of communication with the neurosurgery and oncology teams during hospitalization. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, and coded for common themes until thematic saturation was reached.
During caregiver interviews (N = 22), several domains were discussed including communicating the diagnosis to the patient and siblings, to the rest of the family/support network, and with the neurosurgery team. Regarding parent–neurosurgeon communication, 82% of caregivers identified at least one positive aspect and 55% identified at least one negative aspect of communication. Caregivers who provided positive feedback appreciated that their neurosurgeon was thorough (73%), direct (27%), or compassionate (14%). They also valued when providers would speak “on my level” (18%) and would speak directly to the patient (27%). In terms of negative feedback, caregivers identified miscommunications (32%), discussing the diagnosis in front of the child before feeling prepared to do so (14%), and a lack of clarity about expectations, medications, or treatment (32%).
These data provide specific ways in which neurosurgery providers have communicated effectively with caregivers and identify areas for improvement. Results have been used to develop a navigator-led intervention geared toward improving parent–provider communication during hospitalization for resection of a brain tumor.