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Using data from a multi-site study of parent–child symptom reporting concordance, this secondary analysis explored the role of parent self-efficacy related to pain management for seriously ill school-age children and adolescents.
In the initial study, 50 children and adolescents who were expected to survive 3 years or less were recruited along with their parent/primary caregiver. Parent self-report data were used in this secondary analysis to describe parent self-efficacy for managing their child's pain, caregiver strain, mood states, and perception of the child's pain; to explore relationships among these variables; and to determine predictors of greater self-efficacy.
Parents expressed a wide range of self-efficacy levels (Chronic Pain Self-Efficacy Scale; possible range 10–100, mean 76.2, SD 14.7) and higher levels on average than reported previously by family caregivers of adult patients. Caregiver Strain Index scores were markedly high (possible range 0–13, mean 8.1, SD 3.8) and inversely correlated with self-efficacy (r = −0.44, p = 0.001). On the Profile of Mood States parents reported more negative moods (t = 4.0, p < 0.001) and less vigor (t = −5.0, p < 0.001) than adults in a normative sample, yet vigor rather than mood disturbance predicted self-efficacy. With the exception of child age, self-efficacy was not associated with demographics (child gender, ethnicity, household income, parent age, education, family size) or with the diagnostic groups (primarily cardiac and oncologic) comprising the sample. Younger child age, less caregiver strain, more parent vigor, and parent perception that child is without pain predicted more than half of the variance in parent self-efficacy (R2 = 0.51).
Significance of results:
Findings advance knowledge of parent self-efficacy in managing the pain of a child with life-threatening illness. Results can be used to design supportive interventions enhancing parents’ caregiving roles during their child's last stages of life.
Despite growing recognition of the importance of communication with children with life-limiting illnesses and their families, there has been limited research that includes the child's perspective. The purpose of the current study was to identify the aspects of physician communication that children with life-limiting illnesses and their parents perceived to be facilitative or obstructive in pediatric palliative care.
This qualitative study reports on the first 20 parent and child pairs of pediatric oncology and cardiology patients (mean age 14.25 years, range 9-21 years) with a poor prognosis (physician reported likely <20% chance of survival beyond 3 years) from two children's hospitals and one pediatric hospice in Los Angeles, California. Perspectives on physician communication were elicited from children's and parents' individual narratives, recorded, coded, and analyzed using qualitative grounded theory methodology.
Both children and parents identified five domains of physician communication deemed to be highly salient and influential in quality of care. These included relationship building, demonstration of effort and competence, information exchange, availability, and appropriate level of child and parent involvement. Parents identified coordination of care as another important communication domain. The characteristics of physicians that were deemed most harmful to satisfying communication included having a disrespectful or arrogant attitude, not establishing a relationship with the family, breaking bad news in an insensitive manner, withholding information from parents and losing their trust, and changing a treatment course without preparing the patient and family.
Significance of results:
The six positive communication domains are areas for clinicians to recognize and monitor in communicating with children and families in the pediatric palliative care setting. Knowledge of the qualities of communication that are satisfying to and valued by children and their parents have the potential to lead to more effective communication around the difficult decisions faced by physicians, parents, and children with life-threatening conditions.
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