BACKGROUND: Guidelines exist for counseling expectant families of infants at periviable gestational ages (22–25 weeks), but it is much more common for neonatologists to counsel families at gestational ages beyond the threshold of viability when several aspects of these guidelines do not apply. We aimed to develop an understanding of what information is shared with mothers at risk of preterm delivery beyond periviability and to evaluate communication skills of our participants.
METHODS: We developed a checklist of elements to include in counseling based on a comprehensive literature review. The checklist was divided into an information sharing section and a connect score. The information sharing list was sub-divided into general information and specific complications. Neonatologists engaged in a simulated prenatal counseling session with a standardized patient. Videotaped encounters were then analyzed for checklist elements.
RESULTS: Neonatologists all scored well in communication using our tool and two other validated communication tools - the SEGUE and the analytic global OSCE. There was no difference in scoring based on years of experience or level of training. Information sharing from neonatologists more often discussed general information over specific. Neonatologists also focused more on early outcomes over long-term outcomes. Only 12% of neonatologists quoted the correct survival rate for the case.
CONCLUSIONS: Neonatologists generally communicate well but share less information specific to prematurity and the long-term sequelae of prematurity. Our tool may be used to test if other interventions improve information sharing or communication.
Neonatologists less frequently discuss long term complications: A simulation-based study of prenatal consults beyond the threshold of viability