Parent and Physician Report of Discussions about Prognosis for Critically Ill Children

Lauren Rissman*, Sabrina Derrington, Karen Rychlik, Kelly N. Michelson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objectives: Parents value clear communication with PICU clinicians about possible patient and family outcomes (prognostic conversations). We describe PICU parent and attending physician reports and agreement regarding the occurrence of prognostic conversations. We queried parents and physicians about prognostic conversation content, which healthcare providers had prognostic conversations, and whether parents wanted more prognostic information. Design: Prospective cross-sectional survey study. Setting: University-based 40-bed PICU. Participants: Parents and attending physicians of PICU patients with multiple organ dysfunction within 24 hours of PICU admission. Interventions: Surveys administered to parents and attending PICU physicians 5-10 days after PICU admission. Measurements and Main results: Surveys asked parents and physicians to report the occurrence of prognostic conversations related to PICU length of stay, risk of PICU mortality, and anticipated post-PICU physical, neurologic, and psychologic morbidities for patients and post-PICU psychologic morbidities for parents. Of 101 participants, 87 parents and 83 physicians reported having prognostic conversations. Overall concordance between parents and physicians was fair (Kappa = 0.22). Parents and physicians most commonly reported prognostic conversations about PICU length of stay (67.3% and 63.3%, respectively) and patient post-PICU physical morbidity (n = 48; 48.5% and n = 45; 44.5% respectively). Conversations reported less often by parents and physicians were about patient post-PICU psychologic morbidity (n = 13; 12.9% and n = 20; 19.8%, respectively). Per parent report, bedside nurses and physicians provided most prognostic information. Chaplains (n = 14; 50%) and social workers (n = 17; 60%) were more involved in conversations regarding parent psychologic morbidities. Most commonly, parents requested more information about length of stay and their child's physical morbidities. Parents less frequently wanted information about their own psychologic morbidities. Conclusions: Most parents and physicians report having prognostic conversations, primarily about length of stay and post-ICU physical morbidities. Concordance between parents and physicians is suboptimal. Future studies should evaluate prognostic conversations at other timepoints, how information is delivered, and how these conversations impact the PICU experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)785-794
Number of pages10
JournalPediatric Critical Care Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • communication
  • pediatric intensive care unit
  • postintensive care syndrome
  • postintensive care unit outcomes
  • prognosis
  • prognostication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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