Objective: To compare the communication experiences and preferences of racial/ethnic minority and non-Hispanic white (NHW) families in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU), including their interactions with bedside nurses. Methods: Retrospective cohort study performed at a quaternary university-affiliated children's hospital with 70 pediatric intensive care beds. From October 2013 to December 2014, English-speaking family members of children admitted to the PICU were asked about their experiences communicating with PICU caregivers using a survey tool. Results: 107 participants were included for analysis, of which 60 self-identified as a racial minority and 47 as NHW. Overall, 11% of families chose family meetings as their preferred setting for receiving information, as compared to family-centered rounds or unplanned bedside meetings. Only 50% of those with a family meeting felt they learned new information during the meeting. Chi-square statistics or Fisher's exact tests showed that minority families were less likely to report their bedside nurses spent enough time speaking with them (minority 67%, NHW 85%; p = 0.03) and less likely to receive communication from the medical team in their preferred setting (minority 63%, NHW 85%; p = 0.01). Logistic regression, controlling for covariates including education, insurance, and risk of mortality, showed that the relationship between minority status and concordance of preferred setting persisted (OR = 0.32, 95% C·I.: 0.11, 0.91). Conclusion: In general, families of PICU patients prefer meeting with the medical team during rounds or unplanned bedside meetings as opposed to formal family meetings. Despite this preference, minority families are less likely to receive communication from the medical team in their preferred settings. Meeting all families’ communication setting needs may improve their communication experiences in the PICU.
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