Only 3 in 10 parents always follow doctors’ advice

March 25, 2013

When it comes to doing what the doctor orders, parents don’t always go along with the advice. A new poll finds that only 31% of parents follow guidance from their child’s health care provider all the time.

When it comes to doing what the doctor orders, parents don’t always go along with the advice. A new poll finds that only 31% of parents follow guidance from their child’s health care provider all the time, a practice that can place many children at long-term health risk.

A recent

asked a national sample of parents with children aged from birth to 8 years about the extent to which they follow anticipatory guidance from their children’s physicians.

The majority of parents (87%) said they follow the doctors’ advice all or most of the time, but 13% said they follow provider advice only occasionally.

Parents who admit following provider advice only occasionally are twice as likely to be from low-income households (<$60,000 annually) than from higher-income households, and twice as likely to be black or Hispanic than white.

Parents who follow their doctors' advice only occasionally are most likely to accept advice on child nutrition, dental practices, and the use of child car seats or booster seats in their vehicles, but least likely to heed advice related to discipline, sleep practices, or monitoring their children’s television viewing.

The poll also found that more parents (94%) who perceive that their physicians provide “excellent” care will follow their doctors’ advice than parents who rate their providers as “good/fair/poor.”

Researchers say that because many health risks for children are associated with poor parenting behaviors, such as obesity with excessive consumption of sweets and caries with poor dental care, health care providers need to interact more with parents at well-child visits and provide them with clear, practical guidance on what works with children of different ages.