Patient trust and consent are complex topics for health care workers in pediatrics, specifically when relating to adolescent's legal status. In the context of medical decisions, not much work has been performed to understand the opinion of parents on health care decision-making, especially on confidentiality concerning their adolescent children. The purpose of this research was to assess the parental opinions on these decisions and the influence of different perspectives.
We used a case-based methodology to assess parental opinions on fictional medical decisions. A survey was provided to parents in 2 pediatric outpatient departments in Belgium and the Netherlands. The survey contained cases regarding medical care related to confidentiality and consent about which participants gave their opinion.
In total, 222 surveys were completed. Overall, most parents would allow an adolescent to make his/her own decision (58.6%–70.4%), except in the case of confidentiality on alcohol-related trauma (28.9%). The results show a significant difference in how parents responded when answering from the parental perspective or adolescents' perspective. They granted significantly more authority to the adolescent in the latter view.
Our study shows that parents who were confronted with cases from an adolescent perspective were significantly more likely to give the patient authority. In addition, the medical issue and context influence how the parents responded. These data provide insight into the parental opinions and could lead to more evidence-based frameworks for shared medical decision-making of adolescents and their parents.