Analysis of Enacted Difficult Conversations in Neonatal Intensive Care.


Lamiani G, Meyer EC, Browning DM, Brodsky D, Todres ID.


J Perinatol. 2009 Apr;29(4):310-6.


Objective: to analyze the communicative contributions of interdisciplinary professionals and family members in enacted difficult conversations in neonatal intensive care. 

Study design: physicians, nurses, social workers, and chaplains (n=50) who attended the Program to Enhance Relational and Communication Skills, participated in a scenario of a preterm infant with severe complications enacted by actors portraying family members. Twenty-four family meetings were videotaped and analyzed with the Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS). 

Results: practitioners talked more than actor-family members (70 vs 30%). Physicians provided more biomedical information than psychosocial professionals (P<0.001), and less psychosocial information than nurses, and social workers and chaplains (P<0.05; P<0.001). Social workers and chaplains asked more psychosocial questions than physicians and nurses (MD=P<0.005; RN=P<0.05), focused more on family's opinion and understanding (MD=P<0.01; RN=P<0.001), and more frequently expressed agreement and approval than physicians (P<0.05). No differences were found across disciplines in providing emotional support. 

Conclusions: findings suggest the importance of an interdisciplinary approach and highlight areas for improvement such as using silence, asking psychosocial questions and eliciting family perspectives that are associated with family satisfaction.



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