At pediatric hospitals, patient and family advisory councils thrive despite pandemic restrictions

According to a recent survey of 166 pediatric hospitals in the U.S., patient and family advisory councils (PFACs) remained active as they adapted to COVID-19 restrictions. After moving to online platforms, most PFACs found the frequency of meetings and number of participants were stable or increased over pre-pandemic levels.

COVID PFAC operations Yes No
PFAC met virtually March to December 2020 120 (86%) 20 (14%)
PFAC will meet as frequently or more frequently than pre-pandemic 113 (84%) 22 (16%)
PFAC meeting attendance is the same as or better than pre-pandemic 91 (72%) 35 (28%)
PFACs serve on the pandemic planning and response committee 38 (27%) 105 (73%)

Results of the survey appear in the Patient Experience Journal together with analysis based on the comments of 12 respondents who volunteered to be interviewed.

The interviews reveal that despite initial skepticism, PFAC members grew to appreciate the benefits of online meetings. In fact, some members feel more comfortable participating virtually than in person. And online meetings also encourage participation  from patient and family members who were not previously able to join in person due to logistics or other commitments.

Only 27% of hospitals in the survey included patient and family members on committees charged with pandemic planning and response. Although some hospitals cited the need for rapid decision-making and staff being “overwhelmed” as reasons why patient and family advisors were initially overlooked, others sought their input on family presence policies, communications and gaps in community resources.


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