And Now, a Word from Our Patients: Psychosocial and Palliative Care Considerations in Pediatric Advanced Heart Disease

Dr. Melissa Cousino is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Cardiac Surgery at the University of Michigan, a pediatric psychologist, and Director of the University of Michigan Congenital Heart Center’s M-COPE Psychosocial Services and Research Program. Dr. Cousino received her PhD in Clinical Psychology at Case Western Reserve University through a NIH-funded research training program in pediatric psychology and completed her psychology internship and fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital where she was the first psychology trainee to participate in the Interdisciplinary Pediatric Palliative Care Fellowship Program through Harvard Medical School. Clinically, she primarily cares for pediatric and young adult patients requiring advanced cardiac therapies, including VAD and transplant, but leads a growing team of psychosocial clinicians to provide mental health care throughout the heart center, from fetal through adult congenital heart disease care. Dr. Cousino’s NIH funded research focuses on healthcare communication, medical decision making and psychosocial outcomes in pediatric advanced organ disease. Her team currently leads 9-grant funded studies related to mental health in pediatric and young adult heart disease. Dr. Cousino is internationally recognized for her contributions as a psychologist and behavioral health scientist in the field of pediatric heart failure and transplantation. As such, she serves on the Executive Leadership Team of the ACTION Learning Network and in various leadership roles for the International Society for Heart and Lung Transplantation. She is actively involved in patient and parent-led advocacy and non-profit organizations, including her Scientific Advisory Board roles for both Enduring Hearts and Transplant Families.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe communication and decision making preferences of young people with advanced heart disease
  2. Identify one strategy for use in clinical practice to improve upon the psychosocial wellbeing or healthcare communication experience for young people with advanced heart disease


  • Melissa Cousino, PhD

This seminar was delivered as a Pediatric Grand Rounds Lecture at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, on May 10, 2023.

Content Disclaimer

The Terms of Use and Privacy Policy set forth on the website of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia apply to any and all uses of and access to this site and the content found here.

The work presented in the presentations, videos, and other content on this site (“Presentations”) includes publicly available medical evidence, a consensus of medical practitioners, and/or opinions of individual practitioners that may differ from consensus opinions. These Presentations are intended only to provide general information and need to be adapted for each specific patient based on the practitioner’s professional judgment, consideration of any unique circumstances, the needs of each patient and their family, the availability of various resources at the health care institution where the patient is located, and other factors. The Presentations are not intended to constitute medical advice or treatment, nor should they be relied upon as such. The Presentations are not intended to create a doctor-patient relationship between/among The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, its physicians and the individual patients in question. The information contained in these Presentations are general in nature, and do not and are not intended to refer to specific patients.

CHOP, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation and its or their affiliates, the authors, presenters, practitioners, editors, and others associated with the creation of the Presentations (“CHOP”) are not responsible for errors or omissions in the Presentations; for any outcomes a patient might experience where a clinician reviewed one or more such Presentations in connection with providing care for that patient; and/or for any and all third party content on the site or in the Presentations. CHOP makes no warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the currency, completeness, applicability or accuracy of the Presentations. Application of the information in or to a particular situation remains the professional responsibility of the practitioner who is directly treating the patient.

To the extent that the Presentations include information regarding drug dosing, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the viewer should not rely on the Presentation content, but rather is urged to check the package insert for each drug for indications, dosage, warnings and precautions.

Some drugs and medical devices presented in the Presentations have United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for limited use in restricted research settings. It is the responsibility of the practitioner to ascertain the FDA status of each drug or device planned for use in their clinical practice.

You shall indemnify, defend and hold harmless CHOP, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Foundation, and its/their current and former employees, officers, and agents, trustees, and their respective successors, heirs and assigns (“Indemnitees”) against any claims, liability, damage, loss or expenses (including attorneys’ fees and expenses of litigation) in connection with any claims, suits, actions, demands or judgments arising directly or indirectly out of your reference to or use of the Presentations.

The Presentations are protected by copyright laws and in some cases patent laws, and all rights are reserved under such laws. No part of the Presentations may be reproduced in any form by any means, or utilized in any other way, absent prior written permission from the copyright owner.


By starting this module, you agree to our Content Disclaimer and Terms of Service.


Course Includes

  • 1 Lesson
  • Course Certificate
Don't have a CHOP OPEN account?
Click “Login to Enroll” below to register for free.