BACKGROUND: Although shared decision-making is essential to patient-centered healthcare, its role in pediatric plastic surgery remains unclear. The objective of this study was to define the preferred level of involvement in surgical decision-making among children, caregivers, and surgeons. METHODS: The authors surveyed pediatric plastic surgery patients (n = 100) and their caregivers regarding their preferences on child involvement during surgical decision-making. Fleiss' kappa was used to assess agreement between groups. Bivariate Chi-square tests and multinomial logistic regression were used to assess the relationship between decision-making preferences and select demographic factors. RESULTS: Only 34% of children and their caregivers agreed upon their decision-making preferences (k = 0.04). The majority of children (40%) and caregivers (67%) favored shared decision-making between the patient, caregiver, and surgeon. Only 16% of children preferred physician-driven decisions, while 20% of children desired complete autonomy. Children's preferences were significantly associated with their age; the relative risk of children deferring to caregivers or surgeons over a shared approach was lower for adolescents and teens compared to children under 10 years old (relative risk = 0.20; 95% confidence interval: 0.054-0.751; P = 0.02). Caregiver's preferences did not change based on the child's age, but rather were related to the child's gender. Caregivers were more likely to choose the option that gave the child more autonomy when the child was male. CONCLUSIONS: While most caregivers preferred a shared approach to decision-making, children desired greater autonomy, particularly with increasing age. Since there was limited agreement between caregivers and children, surgeons must be cognizant of differing preferences when discussing treatment plans to optimize both patient and parent satisfaction.
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