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Provided information and parents’ comprehension at the time of admission of their child in pediatric intensive care unit


This study evaluated the first interaction (FI) between parents and health care providers at the time of admission of a child in pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), and explored the extent to which parents understood the medical information. This prospective study took place in three French university-affiliated PICUs. Forty-two parents of 30 children were interviewed. The physician and nurse who took care of the child completed a questionnaire. We evaluated parents’ comprehension (excellent, fair, or poor) by comparing parents’ and physicians’ responses to six items: diagnosis, affected organ, reason for hospitalization, prognosis, treatments, and further investigations. Parent-physician FI occurred within 24 h of child’s admission. Two thirds of the parents were dissatisfied to wait before receiving information. Most of the parents had an excellent comprehension of the affected organ (n = 25/28, 89.3%) and prognosis (n = 26/30, 86.7%). Two thirds of the parents understood the reason for hospitalization (n = 18/28, 64.3%) and diagnosis (n = 19/30, 63.3%). Less than half the parents understood child’s treatments (n = 10/30, 33.3%) and further investigations (n = 8/21, 38.1%). When a nurse delivered information on treatment, parental comprehension improved (p = 0.053).

Conclusion: Parents complained of their wait time before receiving information. Most of them had an excellent comprehension. An improved communication between nurses and physicians is mandatory, and the active participation of nurses to give information to the parents should be encouraged.

What is known:

In pediatric intensive care unit, health care providers deliver information to parents on their child’s condition, which fosters the trust between them to build a partnership.

Various guidelines exist to help health care providers communicate with parents in PICU, but never mention the specific time of admission.

What is new:

Even though parents could wait before entering the unit, they all received information on their child’s condition within 24 hours after admission.

Parents understood the information well, and nurses improved the parental comprehension of the treatments by reformulating.

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Fig. 1



First interaction


Health care provider


Pediatric intensive care unit


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Authors thank the parents who agreed to take part in this study in difficult time, making this work possible. Authors also thank the health care providers of the three PICUs. This work was supported by the French Pediatric Society (Société Française de Pédiatrie). Authors thank Dr. Lisé DeLong, PhD, CPCRT, CCCM, Developmental Cognitive Rehabilitation Specialist, who took the time to proof the manuscript.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



A. Béranger contributed to the concept and design of the study, collected and analyzed the data, and drafted the initial manuscript.

H. Chappuy contributed to the concept and design of the study.

Charlotte Pierron, Laure de Saint Blanquat, and Sandrine Jean contributed in data collection.

Naïm Bouazza contributed in the design of the study and realized the statistics.

All authors contributed in a critical revision of the manuscript and approved the final manuscript as submitted.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Agathe Béranger.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

This study has been approved by the local institutional ethic review board (Necker Enfants-Malades teaching hospital, Paris) and by the French National Commission of Computing and Liberty (CNIL). Each parent consented to participate in this study, after oral and written information.

Additional information

Communicated by Patrick Van Reempts

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Béranger, A., Pierron, C., de Saint Blanquat, L. et al. Provided information and parents’ comprehension at the time of admission of their child in pediatric intensive care unit. Eur J Pediatr 177, 395–402 (2018).

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