Pediatric clinician perspectives on communicating diagnostic uncertainty.

A new interesting article has been published in Int J Qual Health Care. 2019 Jul 19. pii: mzz061. doi: 10.1093/intqhc/mzz061. and titled:

Pediatric clinician perspectives on communicating diagnostic uncertainty.

Authors of this article are:

Meyer AND, Giardina TD, Khanna A, Bhise V, Singhal GR, Street RL, Singh H.

A summary of the article is shown below:

OBJECTIVE: Diagnosis often evolves over time, involves uncertainty, and is vulnerable to errors. We examined pediatric clinicians’ perspectives on communicating diagnostic uncertainty to patients’ parents and how this occurs.DESIGN: We conducted semi-structured interviews, which were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed using content analysis. Two researchers independently coded transcripts and then discussed discrepancies to reach consensus.SETTING: A purposive sample of pediatric clinicians at two large academic medical institutions in Texas.PARTICIPANTS: Twenty pediatric clinicians participated: 18 physicians, 2 nurse practitioners; 7 males, 13 females; 7 inpatient, 11 outpatient, and 2 practicing in mixed settings; with 0-16 years’ experience post-residency.INTERVENTION(S): None.MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Pediatric clinician perspectives on communication of diagnostic uncertainty.RESULTS: Pediatric clinicians commonly experienced diagnostic uncertainty and most were comfortable seeking help and discussing with colleagues. However, when communicating uncertainty to parents, clinicians used multiple considerations to adjust the degree to which they communicated. Considerations included parent characteristics (education, socioeconomic status, emotional response, and culture) and strength of parent-clinician relationships. Communication content included setting expectations, explaining the diagnostic process, discussing most relevant differentials, and providing reassurance. Responses to certain parent characteristics, however, were variable. For example, some clinicians were more open to discussing diagnostic uncertainty with more educated parents- others were less.CONCLUSIONS: While pediatric clinicians are comfortable discussing diagnostic uncertainty with colleagues, how they communicate uncertainty to parents appears variable. Parent characteristics and parent-clinician relationships affect extent of communication and content discussed. Development and implementation of optimal strategies for managing and communicating diagnostic uncertainty can improve the diagnostic process.Published by Oxford University Press in association with the International Society for Quality in Health Care 2019.

Check out the article’s website on Pubmed for more information:



This article is a good source of information and a good way to become familiar with topics such as: communication;diagnostic errors;pediatrics;uncertainty.

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