Family-Centered Pediatric Emergency Care: A Framework for Measuring What Parents Want and Value

Published:September 05, 2015DOI:



      To identify and describe dimensions of family-centered care important to parents in pediatric emergency care and compare them to those currently defined in the literature.


      A qualitative study was conducted involving 8 focus groups with parents who accompanied their child to an emergency department visit at a large tertiary-care pediatric health system. Participants were identified using purposive sampling to achieve representation across demographic characteristics including child's race, insurance status, severity, and participant's relationship to child. Focus groups were segmented by patient age and presence of a chronic condition. They were moderated by a facilitator experienced in health-related topics. A 6-member multidisciplinary team completed a content analysis.


      Sixty-eight parents participated. They were female (77%); aged 20 to 29 years (19%), 30 to 39 years (47%), more than 40 years (31%); black (44%), white (52%); and married (50%). Their child's characteristics were: public insurance (52%); black (46%), white (46%); and admitted as an inpatient (46%). The analysis resulted in 8 dimensions: 1) emotional support; 2) coordination; 3) elicit and respect preferences, and involve the patient and family in care decisions; 4) timely and attentive care; 5) information, communication, and education; 6) pain management; 7) safe and child-focused environment; and 8) continuity and transition. Compared to those published in the literature, the most notable differences were combining involving family and respect for preferences into a single dimension, and separating physical comfort into 2 dimensions: pain management and safe/child-focused environment.


      The resulting dimensions provide a framework for measuring and improving the delivery of family-centered pediatric emergency care.


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