Discrepancies between physician and parent neonatal prognostic expectations are common. Optimism bias is a possible explanation.
Parents interpreted hypothetical neonatal prognoses in an online survey.
Good prognoses tended to be interpreted accurately, while poor prognoses were interpreted as less than the stated value. One-third of participants consistently overstated survival for the three lowest prognoses, compared to the sample as a whole. Three significant predictors of such optimistic interpretations were single-parent status (OR 0.39; 95% CI 0.2–0.75; p = 0.005), African-American descent (OR 3.78; 95% CI 1.63–8.98; p = 0.002) and the belief that physicians misrepresented prognoses (OR 3.11; 95% CI 1.47–6.65; p = 0.003). Participants’ explanations echoed research on optimism bias in clinical and decision science studies.
Participants accepted positive prognoses for critically ill neonates, but reinterpreted negative ones as being unduly pessimistic demonstrating optimism bias.
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The authors would like to thank Deborah Campbell, MD and the Division of Neonatology at Montefiore Children’s Hospital Albert Einstein College of Medicine for their support of this research.
Division of Neonatology fellow research funds.
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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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Nayak, B., Moon, JY., Kim, M. et al. Optimism bias in understanding neonatal prognoses. J Perinatol 41, 445–452 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41372-020-00773-1
Journal of Perinatology (2021)