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"Reading the room:" A qualitative analysis of pediatric surgeons' approach to clinical counseling.

Carlisle EM, Shinkunas LA, Lieberman MT, Hoffman RM, Reisinger HS. "Reading the room:" A qualitative analysis of pediatric surgeons' approach to clinical counseling. Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2023 Mar 1; 58(3):503-509.

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BACKGROUND: In our prior analysis of parental preferences for discussions with pediatric surgeons, we identified that parents prefer more guidance from surgeons when discussing cancer surgery, emergency surgery, or surgery for infants, and they prefer to engage surgeons by asking questions. In this study, we investigate surgeon preferences for decision making discussions in pediatric surgery. METHODS: We conducted a thematic content analysis of interviews of pediatric surgeons regarding their preferences for discussing surgery with parents. Board certified/board eligible pediatric surgeons who had been in practice for at least one year and spoke English were eligible. Fifteen surgeons were invited, and twelve 30-minute semi-structured interviews were completed (80%). Interviews were recorded and transcribed. Thematic content analysis was performed using deductive and inductive methods. RESULTS: Data saturation was achieved after 12 interviews [6 women (50%), median years in practice 6.25, 10 in academic practice (83%), 8 from Midwest (67%)]. 5 themes emerged: (1) Collaboration to promote parental engagement; (2) "Cancer is distinct but not unique;" (3) "Read the room:" tailoring discussions to specific parental needs; (4) Perceived role of the surgeon; (5) Limited experience with decision support tools in pediatric surgery. CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric surgeons prefer a collaborative approach to counseling that engages parents through education. They prioritize tailoring discussions to meet parental needs. Few have utilized decision support tools, however most expressed interest. Insight gained from our work will guide development of a decision support tool that empowers parental participation in counseling for pediatric surgery. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: III.

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