February 5, 2024

20 per cent of parents feel uncertain caring for their child after discharge from pediatric emergency: study

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A cross-Canada study of the emotional needs of parents who bring their children to pediatric emergency departments shows a significant number leave feeling dissatisfied and uncertain about how to care for their child after discharge.

In recently published research carried out at 10 Canadian children’s hospitals, the study team reports that 30 per cent of parent caregivers have unmet emotional needs, 15 per cent have unmet communication needs and 15 per cent feel inadequately involved in their child’s care.

Though about 85 per cent of parents say they feel good or very good about their interactions with the doctors and nurses, only 81.8 per cent feel comfortable caring for their child at home afterwards.

“The core theme is, ‘I am scared, for my child and for me,’” says emergency pediatrician Samina Ali, professor of pediatrics and adjunct professor of emergency medicine in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. “They’re telling us, ‘I need you to educate me about my child’s condition. I need you to make sure that my child is included in this process and that I have enough information to care for them when I go home.’”

“While the results are very positive in some respects, they indicate there’s work we still can do together to improve families’ experiences,” says Shannon Scott, professor and acting dean of the Faculty of Nursing and former Canada Research Chair for Knowledge Translation in Child Health.

“I think these results are going to be very persuasive for decision-makers in health-care institutions to help them make resource allocations and to design additional services and support for families,” says Scott.

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