Parents rely on pediatricians for advice more than any other source

March 1, 2011

Many sources of child care information, such as pediatricians, mothers, other family members, friends, the Internet, TV and newspapers, and parenting books, are available to parents.

Many sources of child care information, such as pediatricians, mothers, other family members, friends, the Internet, TV and newspapers, and parenting books, are available to parents. To determine which of these sources parents seek out and how closely they follow its advice, investigators recruited and surveyed 543 parents of patients in 6 pediatric practices in southeast Michigan. Parents were mostly non-Hispanic white, married or living with a partner, and had been educated beyond high school.

In phone interviews, investigators asked parents which of these sources they consulted and to rate each information source on a 7-point scale from 1 (don't follow at all) to 7 (follow completely). More than 90% of parents reported consulting each of the listed information sources for child health advice, and almost all used TV and newspapers, books, and the Internet.

A full 94% of parents reported completely following their pediatrician's advice. Mothers were second on the list, but a distant second, with only 20% of parents saying they completely followed their mothers' advice. Only 10% of parents reported completely following advice from the Internet or from TV and newspapers.

COMMENTARY

It is reassuring to see that parents listen to your advice-positive reinforcement as you fit anticipatory guidance into visit after visit, day after day. In this study, nearly all parents had access to and sought advice from the Internet, but only about 10% followed that advice completely. Perhaps we should be leveraging this Internet access and our own credibility by directing parents to specific Web sites for further guidance. -Michael Burke, MD