“Hi Mommy”: Parental Preferences of Greetings by Medical Staff

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Abstract

The therapeutic alliance between pediatricians and parents begins at the initial encounter. The manner in which pediatricians greet family members influences this relationship. This study evaluated whether parents are addressed using generic titles and investigated perceptions of parents regarding how they are addressed by medical staff. Written surveys of 137 parents of pediatric inpatients collected opinions about greetings during medical encounters. Parents were asked if they have been addressed as Mom/Dad/Mommy/Daddy during past medical encounters and which generic titles they would prefer. Using a Likert-type scale, the parents’ perceptions of various salutations were assessed and compared. In this sample, 86% of parents were previously called Mom/Dad/Mommy/Daddy. Parents preferred to be addressed as Mom or Dad over other generic titles. Many disliked being addressed as Mommy/Daddy, Ma’am/Sir, or without a name, suggesting that providers should avoid the use of these salutations.

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