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Improving communication between staff and disabled children in hospital wards: testing the feasibility of a training intervention developed through intervention mapping
  1. Rebecca Gumm1,
  2. Eleanor Thomas1,
  3. Claire Lloyd2,
  4. Helen Hambly2,
  5. Richard Tomlinson1,
  6. Stuart Logan2,
  7. Christopher Morris2
  1. 1 Department of Child Health, Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust, Exeter, Devon, UK
  2. 2 PenCRU (Peninsula Cerebra Research Unit) and PenCLAHRC, Institute of Health Research, University of Exeter Medical School, Exeter, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christopher Morris; christopher.morris{at}


Objective To develop and test the feasibility of a novel parent-inspired training intervention for hospital ward staff to improve communication with disabled children when inpatients.

Design Training content and delivery strategies were informed by the iterative process of Intervention Mapping and developed in collaboration with parents of disabled children.

Setting UK University Hospital children's ward.

Subjects 80 medical, nursing, allied health professionals, clerical and housekeeping staff on a children's ward.

Methods Themes identified in previous qualitative research formed the basis of the training. Learning objectives included prioritising communication, cultivating empathy, improving knowledge and developing confidence. Participant feedback was used to refine content and delivery. Intervention documentation adheres to the Template for Intervention Description and Replication checklist.

Results Highlighting mandated National Health Service policies and involving the hospital Patient and Carer Experience Group facilitated management support for the training. Eighty staff participated in one of four 1-hour sessions. A paediatric registrar and nurse delivered sessions to mixed groups of staff. General feedback was very positive. The intervention, fully documented in a manual, includes videos of parent carers discussing hospital experiences, interactive tasks, small group discussion, personal reflection and intention planning. Generic and local resources were provided.

Conclusion It was feasible to deliver this new communication training to hospital ward staff and it was positively received. Early feedback was encouraging and indicates a commitment to behaviour change. Further piloting is required to establish the transferability of the intervention to other hospitals, followed by consideration of downstream markers to evaluate the effects on disabled children's inpatient experience. Organisational and cultural change is required to support individual behaviour change.

  • disabled children
  • parents
  • staff
  • communication
  • training

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  • Contributors All authors made substantive intellectual contributions to the study. RG and CM drafted the manuscript, all coauthors reviewed and revising it critically for important intellectual content and approved the final version.

  • Funding The study was part funded by a small grant from the Royal Devon & Exeter Foundation NHS Trust. PenCRU receives financial support from the charity Cerebra and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care of the South West Peninsula (PenCLAHRC).

  • Disclaimer The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Cerebra, the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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