Caregivers of children with cancer can experience stress when seeking care in the emergency department (ED). We sought to assess how caregivers prepare for and manage a medical emergency that arises in the community setting.
A qualitative evaluation of ED visit preparations taken by children with cancer and their caregivers using self-reported interactive toolkits. Eligible participants included children with cancer (age: 11 to 21 y) currently receiving therapy for cancer diagnosis with an ED visit (besides initial diagnosis) within the previous 2 months and caregivers of same. Participants received a paper toolkit, which were structured as experience maps with several generative activities. Toolkits were transcribed, thematically coded, and iteratively analyzed using NVivo 12.0 software.
A total of 25 toolkits were received (7 children, 18 caregivers), with about three quarters of participants living >1 hour from the treating institution. Several important common themes and areas for improvement emerged. Themes included struggles with decision-making regarding when and where to seek ED care, preparing to go to the ED, waiting during the ED visit, repetition of information to multiple providers, accessing of ports, and provider-to-provider and provider-to-caregiver/patient communication.
The information gained from this study has the potential to inform a tool to support this population in planning for and managing emergent medical issues. This tool has the potential to improve patient and caregiver satisfaction, patient-centered outcomes, and clinical outcomes.