Our new “voice of parents” article is out where we asked stakeholders what they considered to be a severe outcome: they do not agree with our classification and consider disabilities with less pessimism than physicians/researchers.
Children born very preterm are at risk of severe neurodevelopmental impairment, a composite endpoint that includes cerebral palsy, developmental delay, and hearing and visual impairment defined by medical professionals. We aimed to describe preterm birth stakeholders’ perspectives on this classification. Ten clinical scenarios describing 18-month-old children with different components of severe neurodevelopmental impairment and one scenario of a typically developing child (control) were distributed to parents and stakeholders using a snowball sampling technique. For each scenario, participants rated health on a scale from 0 to 10 and whether the scenario represented a severe condition. Results were analyzed descriptively and mean differences from the control scenario were compared using a linear mixed-effects model. Stakeholders (number = 827) completed 4553 scenarios. Median health scores for each scenario varied from 6 to 10. The rating for the cerebral palsy and language delay scenario was significantly lower (mean difference -4.3; 95% confidence interval: -4.4, -4.1) than the control. The proportion of respondents rating a scenario as “severe” ranged from 5% for cognitive delay to 55% for cerebral palsy and language delay. Most participants disagreed with the rating used in research to describe severe neurodevelopmental impairment in preterm children. The term should be redefined to align with stakeholder perceptions.