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Publication Q&A: Pilot Evaluation of the Family Bridge Program: A Communication-and Culture-Focused Inpatient Patient Navigation Program

August 2023 – In a recent paper published in Academic Pediatrics, Dr. Casey Lion and other collaborators from Seattle Children’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development demonstrate the effectiveness of the Family Bridge Program when piloted in a hospital setting. The program was co-designed by researchers, families and healthcare workforce to improve hospital outcomes for families of color, those who use a language other than English for medical care and those with lower incomes.

Read the full publication in Academic Pediatrics.

What are the significant findings in this paper?

This paper demonstrates that patient navigation within the healthcare system is a promising model to mitigate challenges for families of hospitalized children, especially for those who identify as a minority, use a language other than English or have lower income households.

We describe the development of the program and its pilot testing, highlighting the specific focus areas families want help with during their child’s hospitalization. After piloting the Family Bridge Program, we found that this was a feasible and acceptable program to both parents and providers.  

What does this research say about implementing a patient navigation program in a hospital setting?

This research demonstrates that it is acceptable, feasible and potentially effective for improving hospital experiences and outcomes to bring together unmet social needs screening, navigation support and communication coaching, in a way that is responsive to the needs and priorities of families of hospitalized children with low income and a minoritized racial or ethnic background.

Patient families who identify as a racial and/or ethnic minority, speak a language other than English or have lower income households experience a number of healthcare disparities compared to higher-income, non-Hispanic White identifying families.

A few of these disparities include lower satisfaction with healthcare services, less family-centered communication, less adequate pain control and being at higher risk for serious safety events.

While these disparities in hospital experiences are well documented, few effective interventions are available. These disparities are rooted within racism and bias within the healthcare system. Addressing barriers to high-quality care at an operational level shows promise to improve outcomes and reduce future challenges.

The Family Bridge Program shows promise for being effective for overcoming barriers and improving outcomes for families facing potential risks in the healthcare system.

What are the next steps and long-term goals for this research?

We currently have a 5-year NIH R01 grant to study the Family Bridge Program in a randomized clinical trial at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to investigate the program's effectiveness and chart a process for adapting the program to a new setting.

Seattle Children’s contributing authors:

  • Casey Lion, MD, MPH
  • Laura J. Sotelo Guerra, BA
  • Beth E. Ebel, MD, MSc, MPH
  • Chuan Zhou, PhD