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Caregiver Perceptions about their Decision to Pursue Tracheostomy for Children with Medical Complexity

Journal title
The Journal of pediatrics
Publication year
Nageswaran, S.; Golden, S. L.; Gower, W. A.; King, N. M. P.

OBJECTIVE: To describe the perceptions of caregivers of children with medical complexity (CMC) about their decision to pursue tracheostomy for their children, in particular the satisfaction with their decision. STUDY DESIGN: In this qualitative study conducted in western North Carolina between 2013 and 2014, we interviewed 56 caregivers of 41 CMC who had received tracheostomies in the past 5 years. Three of the CMC were deceased at the time of the interview; 8 were decannulated. In-depth interviews (35 English, 6 Spanish) were conducted, audio-recorded, and transcribed verbatim. We used ATLAS.ti software to manage data and identified themes related to caregiver perceptions about tracheostomy decision. RESULTS: We found that caregivers often chose tracheostomy because extending the lives of their children and being able to care for them at home were important. Caregivers reported the many benefits of tracheostomy including improvement in respiratory symptoms, physical and developmental health, quality of life, and means to provide medical care quickly when needed. There were negative effects of tracheostomy such as mucous plugs, excessive secretions, accidental decannulation necessitating emergency tracheostomy tube change, and the increased infection risk. Providing medical care for CMC with tracheostomy at home was difficult, but improved over time. Caregivers were generally satisfied with their decision to pursue tracheostomy for their CMC. CONCLUSIONS: Decisional satisfaction with tracheostomy for CMC is high. In counseling caregivers about tracheostomy, clinicians should present both the benefits and risks. Future studies should quantify the outcomes described in this study.

Research abstracts