Aligning Family–Clinician Expectations During Pediatric Surgical Informed Consent; Development and Implementation of an Innovative Communication Skills Workshop

Aligning Family–Clinician Expectations During Pediatric Surgical Informed Consent; Development and Implementation of an Innovative Communication Skills Workshop
Adena Cohen-Bearak, Elaine C. Meyer, Lauren Mednick, Pamela Varrin, Lisa Burgess, Pia Kuhlmann, Sigall Bell, Craig Lillehei
Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 1 October 2021
Abstract
Introduction
Aligning expectations during the informed consent process before a child’s surgery is an important element of good communication that benefits both surgical staff and families. We developed and evaluated a 2-hour pilot interprofessional workshop to improve the communication and relational skills of pediatric surgeons and nurse practitioners.
Methods
Focus groups with families identified key challenges in the process of informed consent. An interprofessional team, including parents whose children had experienced complex surgeries, developed the workshop collaboratively. A realistic simulation with professional actors portraying parents allowed surgical staff to practice communication skills and receive feedback about the parent perspective. Participants completed a postworkshop evaluation to determine whether the workshop met its objectives and whether they would change practice.
Results
Five key themes identified for the workshop included customize communication; align expectations; share clinical uncertainty; recognize/attend to emotions; and identify team members. Thirty-five clinicians participated in a workshop, and 89% completed evaluations. Three-quarters reported the learning to be valuable, and 64% were likely to change practice. Eighty-seven percent would recommend the workshop to other colleagues, and 58 to 74% felt more prepared to achieve each of eight specific skills.
Discussion
An innovative workshop for pediatric surgical practitioners to align family–clinician expectations can help improve clinician communication skills and comfort with informed consent. Keys to workshop development included involving parents to identify themes and participate as workshop co-faculty; enlisting leadership and recruiting surgical champions; and using pre-existing meetings to ease scheduling challenges of busy practitioners. Booster sessions may facilitate the desired cultural changes.

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