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Medical Device Workarounds in Providing Care for Children With Medical Complexity in the Home

Objectives: Children with medical complexity (CMC) are commonly assisted by medical devices, which family caregivers are responsible for managing and troubleshooting in the home. Optimizing device use by maximizing the benefits and minimizing the complications is a critical goal for CMC but is relatively unexplored. In this study, we sought to identify and describe workarounds families have developed to optimize medical device use for their needs. Methods: We conducted 30 contextual inquiry interviews with families of CMC in homes. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for barriers and workarounds specific to medical device usage through a directed content analysis. We used observation notes and photographs to confirm and elaborate on interview findings. Results: We identified 4 barriers to using medical devices in the home: (1) the quantity and type of devices allotted do not meet family needs, (2) the device is not designed to be used in locations families require, (3) device use is physically or organizationally disruptive to the home, and (4) the device is not designed to fit the user. We also identified 11 categories of workarounds to the barriers. Conclusions: Families face many barriers in using medical devices to care for CMC. Our findings offer rich narrative and photographic data revealing the ways in which caregivers work around these barriers. Future researchers should explore the downstream effects of these ubiquitous, necessary workarounds on CMC outcomes toward developing interventions that optimize device use for families.

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American Academy of Pediatrics
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