Anticipatory Guidance: What Information Do Parents Receive? What Information Do They Want?

by Mark A. Schuster, Naihua Duan, Michael Regalado, David J. Klein

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OBJECTIVE: To determine whether parents are receiving anticipatory guidance, whether they could use more information on anticipatory guidance topics, and how receipt of anticipatory guidance relates to satisfaction with care. DESIGN AND SAMPLE: Analysis of data from a telephone interview of 2017 respondents between July 1995 and January 1996. A stratified random-digit dialing design was used to obtain a nationally representative sample of parents with children between 0 and 3 years old. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Discussions with a physician or nurse about 6 anticipatory guidance topics and whether parents could use more information on these topics. Willingness of parents to pay extra to discuss these topics and receive additional care. Ratings of how well clinicians provide health care. RESULTS: The percentage of parents who had not discussed each subject with a clinician varied by topic: newborn care (< 3 months old), 38%; crying, 65%; sleep patterns, 59%; encouraging learning, 77%; discipline (ages 6-36 months), 75%; and toilet training (ages 18-36 months), 66%. Thirty-seven percent of parents had not discussed any of these topics. Among parents who had not discussed a particular issue, the percentage who reported that they could use more information ranged from 22% for both newborn care and crying to 55% for encouraging learning; similar percentages who had discussed the topics could also use more information. Parents who had discussed more of these topics with a clinician were more likely to report excellent care. Parents who could use more information on a larger number of topics were much more willing to pay for additional care. CONCLUSIONS: Although anticipatory guidance is considered an important component of well-child care, the majority of parents reported that they had not discussed most standard topics with a clinician. Many parents could use more information on these topics. Effort is required to provide parents with the information they need to take good care of their children.

Originally published in: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, v. 154, no. 12, December 2000, pp. 1191-1198.

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