Emotional communication occurs between surgeons and parents of pediatric patients with obstructive sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. However, surgeon responses varied according to parental race and ethnicity, suggesting implicit biases in surgeon-patient communication. Grace R. Leu, MD, and colleagues conducted a study analyzing audio-recorded consultations between otolaryngologists and parents of children who underwent initial otolaryngological examination for obstructive SDB from April 1, 2016, to May 31, 2017. Emotional expressions by parents’ and surgeons’ responses were coded. Among 59 included consultations, 40 (67.8%) contained at least one emotional expression. Participants included 59 parents and seven surgeons. Parents made 123 distinct emotional expressions (mean [SD], 3.08 [2.29] expressions per visit), which were often expressed as subtle cues versus explicit concerns. Most expressions were related to medical issues experienced by the child. Most surgeon responses provided parents space for elaboration of emotional expressions and were nonexplicit. Surgeons were less likely to explore the emotions of parents from racial and ethnic minority groups.
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