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Keywords:

  • conversation analysis;
  • decision-making;
  • hydrocephalus;
  • nursing;
  • parents;
  • qualitative study protocol

Abstract

Title.  Parent’s involvement in decisions when their child is admitted to hospital with suspected shunt malfunction: study protocol.

Aim.  This paper outlines the protocol for a study aimed at exploring parent’s involvement during professional–parent interactions and decisions about their child’s care in the context of suspected shunt malfunction.

Background.  Hydrocephalus is a long-term condition treated primarily by the insertion of a shunt that diverts fluid from the brain to another body compartment. Shunts frequently malfunction, and parents of children with shunted hydrocephalus are responsible for recognizing and responding to shunt complications. Parents feel that interactions with professionals when they seek healthcare advice for their child do always not encourage active participation in care decisions.

Methods.  The study design is based on qualitative methodologies: a combination of conversation analysis applied to consultation recordings of professional–parent interactions when a child is admitted to hospital with suspected shunt malfunction, and semi-structured follow-up interviews with the same participants within 2 weeks of the consultation.

Participants.  This is a prospective study and participants will be purposefully selected. Parents of children who have been admitted to hospital with suspected shunt malfunction and healthcare professionals responsible for the initial assessment of the child will be invited to participate.

Discussion.  The study will identify how decisions about a child’s care are negotiated between parents and healthcare professionals at key stages of the care pathway. In addition, examining interactions between healthcare professionals and parents may identify approaches that support or hinder parents in contributing to the decision-making processes when they seek advice from healthcare professionals.