The hard talk: Managing conflict in the cardiac intensive care unit

Kiona Y. Allen*, Audra Davis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Conflict between parents and providers is common in the cardiac intensive care setting, particularly in patients with prolonged length of stay. Poor communication is the most commonly cited reason for conflict and is exacerbated when providers and families cannot find common ground and develop mutual trust. It is critically important that healthcare providers learn strategies to better partner with families in order to optimize patient medical and psychosocial outcomes. This requires providers to avoid falling prey to their own implicit (or unconscious) biases, including those towards families labeled as “difficult”. Building a healthy family-provider relationship is part of a healthcare provider's duty to treat, has a measurable effect on patient outcomes, and sets up a foundation for the provider-family dyad to more easily navigate any conflicts that do develop. Once a relationship is built, providers and families can talk through their conflicts. They are more likely to have open and transparent communication and are more able to give each other the benefit of the doubt when navigating difficult situations and/or behaviors, rather than labeling each other as intrinsically “difficult” people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101306
JournalProgress in Pediatric cardiology
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Conflict resolution
  • Difficult parent
  • Implicit bias
  • Pediatric cardiac intensive care
  • Psychosocial outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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