Parent Preferences for Shared Decision-making in Acute Versus Chronic Illness

Hosp Pediatr. 2017 Oct;7(10):602-609. doi: 10.1542/hpeds.2017-0049.


Objectives: The goal of this study was to examine preferences for shared decision-making (SDM) in parents of acutely ill versus chronically ill children in the inpatient setting. Additionally, we explored the effect of parental perception of illness severity and uncertainty in illness on decision-making preference.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we surveyed parents of children admitted to pediatric inpatient units at an academic, tertiary-care hospital. Surveys were administered in person and used validated tools to assess SDM preferences and uncertainty in illness. Descriptive statistics evaluated associations stratified by acute versus chronic illness, and multivariable analyses were performed.

Results: Of the 200 parents who participated, the majority were women (78%), Hispanic (81.5%), English speaking (73%), between 30 and 39 years old (37.5%), and had an education achievement of less than a college degree (77%). The mean age of hospitalized children was 8.1 years, and half reported a chronic illness. Most parents preferred an active (43%) or collaborative (40%) role in SDM. There was no association with SDM preference by demographics, number of previous hospitalizations, perception of illness severity, or uncertainty. However, parents of chronically ill children significantly preferred a passive role in SDM when they perceived a high level of uncertainty in illness.

Conclusions: Most parents of hospitalized children prefer to take an active or collaborative role in SDM. However, parents of chronically ill children who perceive high levels of uncertainty surrounding their children's illness prefer a passive role, thus illustrating the complexity in decision-making among this parent population.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease*
  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Self Report