Context A busy paediatric outpatient department in a UK district general hospital
Problem There is currently no information provided to children by the trust. This may have been adversely affecting our paediatric outpatients. By providing an information leaflet to children we hoped to improve their understanding and patient experience.
Assessment of problem and analysis of its causes Children are often overlooked in relation to patient information. Paediatric leaflets are usually written for parents. We surmised that children would benefit from understanding why they were coming to outpatients and what they could expect to happen while they were there. When children are more informed they may be more relaxed and therefore more cooperative with the physical examination. Children who have a positive experience of their first outpatient appointment may be more comfortable with future appointments.
Intervention A trust patient information leaflet that parents could go through with their children prior to attending their first paediatric outpatient appointment.
Study design and strategy for change Send out information leaflet with all new appointments for children aged 2–12 years (over an 8 month period) with a request that parents go through it with their child before attending the appointment. Leaflet designed with assistance of senior paediatric speech and language therapist to ensure that age-appropriate language used. Pictures were included to illustrate components of outpatient appointment, such as being weighed by nurse. Leaflet approved by in-hospital communications department.
Measurement of improvement A questionnaire given to parents in outpatient reception. Parents were asked whether they received leaflet, whether they went through it with their child and whether they felt it was helpful. If they didn’t receive it they were asked whether they thought it may have been helpful.
We also asked our clinicians to ask the children pre-defined questions prior to beginning the consultation to try and capture the children’s views verbatim. Most clinicians did not complete these questions. This may reflect time pressure during appointments.
We collated the questionnaire responses and analysed the data. We also obtained further suggestions for improvement from parents.
42% of parents who had not received the leaflet reported that it would have been helpful.
However 78% of parents who received the leaflet prior to the appointment reported that it was useful (Figure 1).
When asked to explain what their child understood about why they were coming to clinic and what would happen 24% left the question blank, possibly due to a language barrier.
Some comments from parents who had not received leaflet prior to appointment included ‘I wish we could have received this beforehand to go through with my child’ and ‘it’s always important to communicate with children and explain to them everything in advance. This will help to keep them calm and happy.’
A parent who had received leaflet commented ‘perhaps a child-friendly version - in colour and larger font would be helpful’.
Effects of changes Our work demonstrated that most parents in our population valued the provision of this information to their children. We used parents’ views as a proxy for their children’s which may not be accurate. Over time, as more leaflets are distributed, it may be possible to investigate whether children who received the leaflet had a more positive experience of outpatients than those who didn’t.
Designing an information leaflet requiring trust approval took much longer than we anticipated.
Our leaflet needs to be translated into other languages to better serve the local population.
Work is needed to make our leaflet more user-friendly for younger children.
Message for others Give consideration to children’s views and understanding of what coming to hospital means for them. Seek to inform them and make their experience a positive one.
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.