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Most Parents Have Say in Kids' Hospital Care

It's important to include mom, dad in decision-making, researchers say

MONDAY, Sept. 24 (HealthDay News) -- The vast majority (86 percent) of American parents participate in medical decisions made about their children while in hospital, a new study finds.

The survey of 130 parents, published in the October issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, also found that parents who felt confident talking with doctors, and parents whose child had been previously hospitalized, were more likely to play a role in medical decisions about their children.

The level of parent participation in medical decisions may have a major impact on the health of a hospitalized child, noted study lead author Dr. Beth A. Tarini, clinical lecturer and member of the Child Health Evaluation Research Unit in the Division of General Pediatrics at Mott.

She conducted the study while at the University of Washington in Seattle.

"Medical care has become more complex, and it behooves us to get parents more involved in (children's care)," Tarini said in a prepared statement. "Ultimately, parents are responsible for the care of their child once they leave the hospital. When parents feel informed and empowered, they're likely to be better prepared to care for their child."

She said this study is just a first step in learning more about parents' participation in medical decisions involving their children but is "a reminder to physicians of the potential modifiability of parents' involvement in their child's medical care."

The next step in this line of research is to determine whether parental involvement in medical decisions improves children's outcomes.

More information

The Nemours Foundation offers parents advice on how to talk to a child's doctor.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, September 2007

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