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Driving the future of family-centered care through research

RMHC is advancing family-centered care knowledge, practice, and policy and contributing new evidence in the field through a partnership with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF).

Family-centered care is an approach to healthcare where the entire family is fully supported, engaged, and involved in the care and support services provided to their child.
RMHC parents smile with their two children giggling

RMHC has launched a worldwide research program to explore:

  • What is currently being done to deliver family-centered care and family-centered services around the world?
  • What are the areas of opportunity when it comes to social determinants of health and their impact on families during and after a hospital stay?
  • What are the gaps in family-centered care and family-centered services? What innovations could help close those gaps?

RMHC has launched a worldwide research program to explore:

  • What is currently being done to deliver family-centered care and family-centered services around the world?
  • What are the areas of opportunity when it comes to social determinants of health and their impact on families during and after a hospital stay?
  • What are the gaps in family-centered care and family-centered services? What innovations could help close those gaps?
RMHC parents smile with their two children giggling

Why research is important:

  • Separation during hospitalization is traumatic for children and families— with long-term adverse outcomes for both, buffered by parental involvement.
  • Hospital safety, quality and health care value are improved when families are present and actively involved in their child’s care.
  • Families need physical, educational, and psychological support to be present and involved in their child’s care.


RMHC Center at UCSF Team  

In 2022, RMHC and UCSF joined forces with the aim to contribute new evidence and facilitate the implementation of pediatric family-centered care and family-centered services in all settings where children receive health care globally. Leading our research is Linda Franck, RN, PhD, FRCPCH, FAAN, Professor, School of Nursing with support from colleagues at the University of California San Francisco.

Dr. Linda Franck, Principal Investigator
Dr. Thomas Hoffmann, Co-Investigator and Lead Statistician
Dr. Caryl Gay, Research Specialist
Dr. Renée Mehra, Co-Investigator
Dr. Christine Hodgson, Postdoctoral Scholar
Sufiya Manju, Project Analyst
Michelle Pavlik, Project Manager
Nitya Turaga, Project Analyst
Michael Clay, Data Systems Analyst
Dr. Jennifer Rienks, Co-Investigator

RMHC Center Advisory Committee

Informing our work is the RMHC Center Advisory Committee, comprised of family representatives, RMHC Chapter leaders, and experts in family-centered care and research.

  • Dr. Linda Franck, UCSF
  • Tiziana Gagliardi, RMHC Italy
  • Nate Graham, RMHC of the Bluegrass
  • Beverley Johnson, Institute for Patient- and Family-Centered Care (IPFCC)
  • Rodney Jordan, RMHC Global
  • Hye Kim, RMHC Global
  • Brittany Lothe, Family Representative and Will’s Way Foundation
  • Darlène Matroos Piar, Family Representative
  • Meghan McGill, RMHC Canada
  • Claudia Rigaud, RMHC Curaçao
  • Nicole Rubin, Impact Solutions, LLC
  • Barbara Ryan, RMHC Australia
  • Dr. Stuart Siegel, RMHC Global Board Trustee
RMHC parents surround their infant in an embrace on a hospital bed

Prior RMHC-sponsored research shows:

  • Families believe staying close to their hospitalized child improves their recovery.
  • Spaces designed for family needs and restful sleep are essential for parents and caretakers.
  • Families who stay at a Ronald McDonald House can better participate in their child’s care and have a better hospital experience.
  • Hospital leaders worldwide value the family-centered services RMHC provides.

Learn more about RMHC-sponsored research

  • The aim of this study was to explore the accommodations utilized by families of pediatric oncology patients treated at Sydney Children’s Hospital in order to assess the perceptions of the accommodation services and identify the unmet needs.

    Accommodation In Pediatric Oncology: Parental Experiences, Preferences and Unmet Needs G. Daniel, C.E. Wakefield, B. Ryan, C.A.K. Fleming, N. Levett and R.J. Cohn; Rural and Remote Health (2013)
  • The aim of this study was to investigate the perspectives of families around the impact of the Ronald McDonald House stay on their experience. A second objective was to explore the influence of demographic and clinical factors on family members’ views of their experiences, and of the outcome of their child’s hospitalization.

    Accommodating Families During A Child’s Hospital Stay: Implications For Family Experience And Perceptions Of Outcomes Linda Franck, Caryl L. Gay and Nicole Rubin; Families, Systems, & Health (2013)
  • Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is an assessment of how a person’s well-being may be affected over time by a disease, disability or disorder. The objective of this study was to assess the health impact of the Ronald McDonald House program using the assessment of HRQOL for pediatric patients (and their caregivers) being treated for highly complex diseases at the Hospital Italiano de Buenos Aires.

    Quality Of Life In Children With Chronic Diseases And Their Caregivers Staying At The Ronald McDonald House Camila Sanchez and Carmen De Cunto; Archivos Argentinos de Pediatria (2014)
  • This study assessed families staying at a local Ronald McDonald House and surveyed the relationship between family functioning, family hardiness and the caregiver’s anxiety while their child underwent hospital care. Characteristics of family functioning include good communication and family routines. ‘Family hardiness’ refers to a family’s approach to coping with difficulties. It is believed that family resilience, based on family functioning and family hardiness, influences the mental health of family members and their ability to cope with their child’s illness and hospitalization.

    Factors Related To Caregiver State Anxiety And Coping With A Child’s Chronic Illness Laura A Nabors, Jessica C Kichler, Anne Brassell, Sunny Thakkar, Jennifer Bartz, Jordan Pangallo, Bevin Van Wassenhove and Heidi Lundy; Families, Systems, & Health (2013)
  • The purpose of this study was to assess anxiety and stress in the parents of children admitted to a hospital, and to identify influencing factors.

    Parental Anxiety And Stress During Children’s Hospitalization: The StayClose Study Jo Wray, Kirsty Lee, Nettie Dearmun and Linda Franck; Journal of Child Health Care (2011)
  • Awareness has been growing around the psychological trauma for children and their parents that can occur with hospitalization. This can undermine the child’s recovery and the overall wellbeing of the family. The main objective of this study was to identify modifiable factors that predicted parental post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) three months after the child’s hospitalization. Another aim was to explore the nature of the relationships between identified predictors of PTSS.

    Predictors Of Parent Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms After Child Hospitalization On General Pediatric Wards: A Prospective Cohort Study Linda Franck, Jo Wray, Caryl Gay, Annette K. Dearmun, Kirsty Lee and Bruce A. Cooper; International Journal of Nursing Studies (2014)
  • Research has demonstrated that poor sleep, or lack of sleep, can lead to physical stress and increased anxiety. The purpose of this study was to compare the sleep quality, and quantity, of parents who stayed at a Ronald McDonald House to those who slept at the hospital bedside. The study was conducted at a tertiary children’s hospital in the United Kingdom as part of the larger StayClose Study that assessed anxiety and stress in parents during and after their child’s hospitalization.

    Where Do Parents Sleep Best When Children Are Hospitalized? A Pilot Comparison Study Linda Franck; Jo Wray; Caryl Gay; Annette Dearmun; Isaline Alsberge and Kathryn Lee; Behavioral Sleep Medicine (2013)
  • Medical play is a therapeutic technique to help seriously ill children and their siblings cope with feelings and reactions towards medical events related to chronic illness. This study’s main objective was to understand children’s reactions to medical trauma through medical play.

    Play as a Mechanism of Working Through Medical Trauma for Children with Medical Illnesses and Their Siblings Laura Nabors, Jennifer Bartz, Jessica Kichler, Rebecca Sievers, Rebecca Elkins and Jordan Pangallo; Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing (2013)
  • Lengthy hospital stays for high-risk pregnant women who are otherwise stable is a common but expensive practice to ensure they are close to a specialty hospital. Studies have shown that outpatient management could be a safe and cost-effective alternative to hospitalization. The aim of this research was to evaluate the use of the Ronald McDonald House near Albany Medical Center Hospital (AMCH), a leading hospital for high-risk pregnancies and critically-ill newborns, for select high-risk pregnant women as an alternative to in-patient care. This would help to avoid unnecessary hospitalization costs and provide expectant mothers with a more home-like environment.

    The Ronald McDonald House as an Alternative to Antepartum Hospitalization Scott C. Dexter, Kristine A. Klein, David A. Clark, Steve L. Ross and Jean-Claude Veille; Journal of Perinatology (2004)
  • Based on a survey of 530 administrators from 16 countries, this survey was the first to study the impact of Ronald McDonald Houses on seriously ill children and their families from the perspective of hospital administrators.

    Hospital leadership perspectives on the contributions of Ronald McDonald Houses. Results from an international survey Paula M. Lantz, Nicole Rubin and D. Richard Mauery; Journal of Health Organization and Management (2015)
  • In this study additional questions about accommodation were added to standardized inpatient pediatric and neonatal intensive care unit family experience surveys at 10 U.S. hospitals. The first-of-its-kind study aimed to determine the accommodation types used by families, compare characteristics across accommodation types, and explore the influence of where families stay when their child is hospitalized on overall hospital experience outcomes.

    The Child and Family Hospital Experience: Is it influenced by family accommodation? Linda Franck, Deron Ferguson, Sarah Fryda, Nicole Rubin; Medical Care Research and Review (2015)
  • This position paper describes the unique role of Ronald McDonald House Charities in enabling, supporting and facilitating family-centered care in current health care delivery systems worldwide.

    Ronald McDonald House Charities® is Keeping Families Close®: A Unique Role in Family-Centered Care Nicole Rubin and Linda Franck, 2018