Purpose: Attitudes of medical providers towards persons with disabilities can affect the quality of care their patients receive. The authors evaluated an experiential learning module to investigate what Paediatric and Medicine/Paediatric residents at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital learn from visiting the homes of families with children who have disabilities.
Methods: Families were recruited through a community-based parent organization. The families were instructed to discuss what it is like to have a child with a disability and to think about a primary message to give to residents during a 1-2 hour home visit. Since 1998, residents participated as part of the required Developmental Paediatrics rotation. They were instructed to write a one-page narrative description of their visit. The authors utilized the grounded theory of qualitative research and content analysis to count the key themes identified in the residents' descriptions.
Results: Twenty-four families and 63 residents participated in the learning module. The resident observations yielded four major themes. Twenty-four per cent stated families needed more information; 79% noted that families face various obstacles, including financial (33%), medical providers' pessimism (29%), inter-personal family conflicts (27%) and medical system problems (22%); 49% of residents commented that families adjust and cope with their child's disability; and 27% of residents stated that the experience changed their insight about children with disabilities.
Conclusion: The authors' study suggests that a single home visit with the family of a child with a disability provides paediatrics and medicine/paediatrics residents with insights into the family's perspective on disability otherwise unattainable in a hospital-based training programme.