Objective: When an infant’s prognosis is uncertain, communication between neonatologists and parents surrounding goals of care and decision-making can be challenging. This qualitative study explored communication between neonatologists and parents to discover qualities which may enhance or impede parent-clinician partnership under such difficult circumstances.
Study design: Guided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Patient Centered Communication framework, semi-structured individual interviews were conducted and analyzed regarding neonatologist and parent perceptions of their communication. Subjects consisted of nine dyads of neonatologists and English-speaking parents whose infant had an uncertain prognosis.
Results: Parents were overall satisfied with neonatologists’ communications concerning their infant’s uncertain trajectory. Nonetheless, both experienced challenges and distress during communication, impeding collaboration and engagement.
Conclusions: Families and neonatologists value principles of patient centered communication but report challenges implementing this practice. Incorporating a multidisciplinary approach in settings of prognostic uncertainty to foster patient centered communication, may enhance communication surrounding NICU care.