What parents say about their child's surgeon: Parent-reported experiences with pediatric surgical physicians

Alexandra G. Espinel, Rahul K. Shah, Mary Catherine Beach, Emily F. Boss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE: Reviews of patient and caregiver experience with health practitioners are increasingly important to consumers. Understanding physician qualities valued by patients and their familiesmay facilitate more effective care and communication. OBJECTIVE: To identify physician qualities and care dimensions valued by parents during their child's outpatient surgical care encounter. DESIGN: Mixed-methods analysis of comments from patient-satisfaction surveys. SETTING: Outpatient pediatric otolaryngology and surgical specialty clinics in an urban tertiary care center. PARTICIPANTS: Parents of children seen in pediatric otolaryngology and surgical specialty clinics who completed the physician section of the patient satisfaction survey. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Free-text comments written in the physician section of the survey. RESULTS: A total of 195 survey comments from visits to 18 surgical specialty clinics were analyzed; 64 comments (33%) were global in nature, of which 58 (90%) were positive; 25 of 195 comments (13%) discussed recommendation of care. Of the 131 comments (67%) with specific content, 79 (60%) were positive. Major themes were physician interpersonal style (n = 78, 45%), physician technical skills/knowledge/preparation (n = 82, 47%), and systems issues (n = 14, 8%). The most commonly noted interpersonal subthemes were inclusion/interaction with the child (20%) and empathy/concern for the patient's needs (29%). The most common skills themes related to whether the physician answered questions (16%) or explained treatment (23%). The most common negative subgroup was inadequate explanation of treatment (18%). The majority of comments related to systems were negative (13 of 14, 93%). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Parents highly value physician interpersonal style and visit-specific skills (involving the child in discussion; showing empathy/concern for the patient/family; answering questions; explaining treatment). While most comments about surgeons were affirmative, clinical systems were more often negatively perceived. Attention to parent-reported experiencesmay help physicians improve communication and overall effectiveness of care provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-402
Number of pages6
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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