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Convergent parallel mixed-methods study to understand information exchange in paediatric critical care and inform the development of safety-enhancing interventions: a protocol study

01 Sep 2018


The effective exchange of clinical information is essential to high-quality patient care, especially in the critical care unit (CCU) where communication failures can have profoundly negative impacts on critically ill patients with limited physiological capacity to tolerate errors. A comprehensive systematic characterisation of information exchange within a CCU is needed to inform the development and implementation of effective, contextually appropriate interventions. The objective of this study is to characterise when, where and how healthcare providers exchange clinical information in the Department of Critical Care Medicine at The Hospital for Sick Children and explore the factors that currently facilitate or counter established best rounding practices therein.

Methods and analysis

A convergent parallel mixed-methods study design will be used to collect, analyse and interpret quantitative and qualitative data. Naturalistic observations of rounds and relevant peripheral information exchange activities will be conducted to collect time-stamped event data on workflow and communication patterns (time–motion data) and field notes. To complement observational data, the subjective perspectives of healthcare providers and patient families will be gathered through surveys and interviews. Departmental metrics will be collected to further contextualise the environment. Time–motion data will be analysed quantitatively; patterns in field note, survey and interview results will be examined based on themes identified deductively from literature and/or inductively based on the data collected (thematic analysis). The proactive triangulation of these systemic, procedural and contextual data will inform the design and implementation of efficacious interventions in future work.

Ethics and dissemination

Institutional research ethics approval has been acquired (REB #1000059173). Results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at relevant conferences. Findings will be presented to stakeholders including interdisciplinary staff, departmental management and leadership and families to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the exchange of clinical information in its current state and develop user-centred recommendations for improvement.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open