In any healthcare setting the most important person is the patient, and in the case of pediatric patients their parents as well. If a healthcare provider is unable to communicate adequately the patients may be left feeling frustrated and angry. According to Levetown (2008) there are three important elements in building the relationship between a physician, parent, and child. These consist of informativeness or the quality of health information provided, interpersonal sensitivity or the ability for a physician to show interest in the parents’ and childs emotions and concerns, and partnership building (Levetown 2008). These basics can be applied to all health professionals, not just the physician themselves.
Beginning with informative facts regarding a child’s health, many parents have personal preferences on how this information is provided. Fisher (2005) noted that there seem to be two very opposite coping styles for adults consisting of information seeking and information avoiding:
Parents who use an information-seeking coping style attempt to obtain as much information as possible about the situation to provide a brief sense of control. Parents who are most comfortable with an information-avoiding style apply behavioral or cognitive strategies aimed at distancing themselves from stressful information to provide a short-term means of emotionally mastering periods of uncertainty. (p. 233)
Meyer et al. (2006) conducted research on Parents of children in the pediatric intensive care unit. They found that “Parents were clear that honest and complete information needs to be forthcoming and shared with families”, these parents seem to fall into the information-seeking category described above.
When all information is provided to families who seek it, it allows for a more trusting relationship between the healthcare provider and parents. A skill that every healthcare worker should develop is the ability to read a person’s body language to be able to differentiate between the family that wants full disclosure and the family that may need some time to cope before all facts are revealed.
There have also been questions regarding whether a child should be kept informed about their health status. Factors including age of the child, cognitive ability, and again personal preference of both the child and the parents should be considered. According to Levetown (2008) there is a “moral and ethical obligation” to keep children informed of their illness or condition. It is quite obvious that a young child may be incapable of understanding but as soon as they come of age they should be wholly involved in their healthcare. Levetown (2008) believes “Pediatric health care quality will improve if the child is recognized to have his or her own individual cognitive and emotional needs, is taken seriously, and is considered to be intelligent, capable, and cooperative” (p. e1445). However, parents reserve the right to choose how information is provided to...