|Author(s)||Katie Ekberg, Lara Weinglass, Stuart Ekberg, Susan Danby, Anthony Herbert|
|Title||The pervasive relevance of COVID-19 within routine paediatric palliative care consultations during the pandemic: A conversation analytic study|
|Tag(s)||EMCA, COVID-19, Palliative care, Children, Pandemic, In press|
Background: The importance of caring for children with complex and serious conditions means that paediatric palliative care must continue during pandemics. The recent pandemic of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) provides a natural experiment to study health communication during pandemic times. However, it is unknown how communication within consultations might change during pandemics.
Aim: This study, a sub-study of a larger project, aimed to examine real-world instances of communication in paediatric palliative care consultations prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic to understand how clinicians and families talk about the pandemic.
Design: Paediatric palliative care consultations prior to, during, and immediately following the initial peak of COVID-19 cases in Australia were video recorded and analysed using Conversation Analysis methods.
Setting/participants: Twenty-five paediatric palliative care consultations (including face-to-face outpatient, telehealth outpatient and inpatient consultations) were video recorded within a public children's hospital in Australia. Participants included 14 health professionals, 15 child patients, 23 adult family members and 5 child siblings.
Results: There was a pervasive relevance of both serious and non-serious talk about COVID-19 within the consultations recorded during the pandemic. Topics typical of a standard paediatric palliative care consultation often led to discussion of the pandemic. Clinicians (55%) and parents (45%) initiated talk about the pandemic.
Conclusions: Clinicians should not be surprised by the pervasiveness of COVID-19 or other pandemic talk within standard paediatric palliative care consultations. This awareness will enable clinicians to flexibly address family needs and concerns about pandemic-related matters that may impact health and wellbeing.