The National Palliative Care Research Center

Curing suffering through palliative care research.


Katherine Guttmann, MD, MBE

Assistant Professor

Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Grant Year
Grant Term
2 years
Grant Type
Kornfeld Scholars Program

Project Description
Communication in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: Developing a Comprehensive Measure of High-Quality Communication
Poor communication between parents and physicians in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) leads to adverse psychosocial outcomes for parents and worsened long-term outcomes for babies. Though researchers have investigated communication between physicians and families in adult intensive care units, fewer studies have focused on communication in the NICU. My long-term goal is to contribute evidence to improve communication about prognosis between families and providers in the NICU in order to enhance decision-making and optimize outcomes for children and their families. There is a gap in knowledge regarding how to measure communication quality globally, and with parents in the NICU specifically. Addressing this gap is a critical step towards first studying and then improving communication in the NICU. The overall objective of this project is to define high quality prognostic communication in the NICU and validate an existing measure of communication quality in the NICU population. To achieve the study objectives, I will: 1) define high quality communication in the NICU using a mixture of participant observation and semi-structured interviews; and 2) evaluate the psychometric properties and validity of a modified measure of high-quality communication in the NICU. Little is known about how to measure and define high quality communication in the NICU. The proposed work will enable much-needed further study to improve care for this unique population of babies and their parents. 
Katherine Guttmann, MD, MBE, is an Assistant Professor at the Icahn School of Medicine and an attending neonatologist in the Mount Sinai Health System. Dr. Guttmann is committed to improving communication between families of critically ill neonates and providers in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, especially surrounding prognosis and uncertainty. She conducts research aimed at better understanding how doctors communicate with families, and to work towards better communication, better parent experience, and better outcomes for babies and their families. Dr. Guttmann is passionate about improving how families experience NICU hospitalization by improving communication.