Results Summary and Professional Abstract
Research Prompts Improvements in Parental Mental Health Screenings
Prinicipal Investigator Karen Fratantoni, MD, MPH, and Co-Principal Investigator Lamia Soghier, MD, care for some of the country’s youngest and most vulnerable patients at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. Seeing the impact of children’s health challenges on parents’ mental health, Fratantoni and Soghier spearheaded this 0study that tested the impact of a peer support program to improve parents’ mental health and confidence in caring for their infants. Their research led to systemwide improvements at Children’s National, including the formation of a Perinatal Mental Health Taskforce and the implementation of a uniform, hospital-wide parental mental health screening.
Peer review of PCORI-funded research helps make sure the report presents complete, balanced, and useful information about the research. It also assesses how the project addressed PCORI’s Methodology Standards. During peer review, experts read a draft report of the research and provide comments about the report. These experts may include a scientist focused on the research topic, a specialist in research methods, a patient or caregiver, and a healthcare professional. These reviewers cannot have conflicts of interest with the study.
The peer reviewers point out where the draft report may need revision. For example, they may suggest ways to improve descriptions of the conduct of the study or to clarify the connection between results and conclusions. Sometimes, awardees revise their draft reports twice or more to address all of the reviewers’ comments.
Peer reviewers commented and the researchers made changes or provided responses. Those comments and responses included the following:
- The reviewers questioned how much involvement parents had in what the report described as focus groups. The reviewers noted that a focus group suggests a qualitative study was done, but the report did not describe the qualitative methods and results. The researchers added more detail about the methods and results of the focus groups and parent interviews to the report. The researchers noted that they used information from the focus groups to inform the intervention, but this was separate from the patient and stakeholder engagement work they conducted.
- The reviewers questioned the choice of self-efficacy as an outcome since it appears that there was little room to improve on this measure. They asked whether the decision was made based on pilot data, suggesting that study participants lacked self-efficacy. The researchers said that data from focus groups and interviews suggested that self-efficacy was an appropriate outcome, and that research literature suggests that self-perception of one’s own ability to parent is critical to new parents’ interactions with their newborns.
- The reviewers expressed concern that the outcomes measured in this study were not well aligned with the intervention. This may have led to the null study results when the parent navigation intervention could have a positive impact on different outcomes. The researchers revised their discussion to say that although the intervention did not affect the chosen outcomes, there was still reason to believe that peer-support programs such as this one should serve as a core principle of family-centered care in neonatal intensive care units.
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