Caregiver Experiences in Pediatric Hospitalizations: Challenges and Opportunities for Improvement

Louise E. Vaz, Rebecca M. Jungbauer, Celeste Jenisch, Jared Austin, David Wagner, Steven J. Everist, Alyssa J. Libak, Michael Harris, Katharine E. Zuckerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: There are limited qualitative data describing general pediatric hospitalizations through the caregivers' lens, and most focus on one particular challenge or time during the hospitalization. This qualitative study aimed to address a gap in the description of the breadth and depth of personal challenges caregivers may face during the entire hospitalization, irrespective of severity of patient illness or diagnosis, and explored caregiver-suggested interventions. METHODS: Caregivers of pediatric patients on the hospitalist service at a Pacific Northwest children's hospital were interviewed to explore their hospitalization experience and solicit feedback for potential interventions. Content was coded iteratively using a framework analysis until thematic saturation was met. Findings were triangulated through 2 focus groups, 1 with parent advisors and the other with hospital physicians and nurses. RESULTS: Among 14 caregivers (7 each of readmitted and newly admitted patients) and focus group participants, emergent domains on difficulties faced with their child's hospitalization were anchored on physiologic (sleep, personal hygiene, and food), psychosocial (feelings of isolation, mental stress), and communication challenges (information flow between families and the medical teams). Caregivers recognized that addressing physiologic and psychosocial needs better enabled them to advocate for their child and suggested interventions to ameliorate hospital challenges. CONCLUSIONS: Addressing physiologic and psychosocial needs may reduce barriers to caregivers optimally caring and advocating for their child. Downstream consequences of unaddressed caregiver challenges should be explored in relation to participation in hospital care and confidence in shared decision-making, both vital components for optimization of family-centered care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1073-1080
Number of pages8
JournalHospital pediatrics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pediatrics


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