Background: A gap exists in understanding a provider's approach to delivering care that is mutually beneficial to patients, families, and other providers in the prehospital setting. The purpose of this study was to identify attitudes, beliefs, and perceived barriers to providing patient and family centered care (PFCC) in the prehospital setting and to describe potential solutions for improving PFCC during critical pediatric events.
Methods: We conducted a qualitative, cross-sectional study of a purposive sample of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics from an urban, municipal, fire-based EMS system, who participated in the Pediatric Simulation Training for Emergency Prehospital Providers (PediSTEPPS) course. Two coders reviewed transcriptions of audio recordings from participants' first simulation scenario debriefings and performed constant comparison analysis to identify unifying themes. Themes were verified through member checking with two focus groups of prehospital providers.
Results: A total of 122 EMTs and paramedics participated in 16 audiotaped debriefing sessions and two focus groups. Four overarching themes emerged regarding the experience of PFCC by prehospital providers: (1) Perceived barriers included the prehospital environment, limited manpower, multi-tasking medical care, and concern for interference with patient care; (2) Providing emotional support comprised of empathetically comforting caregivers, maintaining a calm demeanor, and empowering families to feel involved; (3) Effective communication strategies consisted of designating a family point person, narration of actions, preempting the next steps, speaking in lay terms, summarizing during downtime, and conveying a positive first impression; (4) Tactics to overcome PFCC barriers were maintaining a line of sight, removing and returning a caregiver to and from the scene, and providing situational awareness.
Conclusions: Based on debriefings from simulated scenarios, some prehospital providers identified the provision of emotional support and effective communication as important components to the delivery of PFCC. Other providers revealed several perceived barriers to providing PFCC, though potential solutions to overcome many of these barriers were also identified. These findings can be utilized to integrate effective communication and emotional support techniques into EMS protocols and provider training to overcome perceived barriers to PFCC in the prehospital setting.
Keywords: family presence; patient and family centered care; prehospital; qualitative; simulation.