PEDIATRIC CARE: Parents Report Dissatisfaction
A study in last month's Archives of Child and Pediatric Medicine found that although "[m]ost parents were pleased with" their children's pediatric care, "many were not satisfied with information available from their doctor on child development concerns like discipline, toilet training or how to encourage reading," NPR's Michelle Trudeau reported Friday. Psychologist Katherine Taff Young from the Commonwealth Fund directed the random nationwide survey of more than 2,000 mothers and fathers with children from birth to age three. Young said that although the majority of children have "a stable source of pediatric care and most children are healthy, ... the glass is half empty" because the "[m]ajority of parents are not satisfied with the information they're getting from their pediatric providers about child development concerns and rearing." She said, "They want information on helping and encouraging learning ... discipline ... toilet training ... how to calm a crying baby and newborn care." One mother interviewed by NPR's "Morning Edition" said, "People want more than just health care, they want to be heard, and they don't feel like they're getting listened to."
A Timely Study
Dr. Joel Alpert, president-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics, called it "a timely survey which reminds us that there is a lot to do." Trudeau reported that according to Alpert, "new boundaries" in pediatric care "are being extended now because of the many advances in the medical care of children, so new problems are surfacing on the radar screen." Alpert said, "[I]t's because we've succeeded in so many areas that it's now even more obvious that we're not succeeding and have more to do in this other developmental and behavioral area." Dr. T. Berry Brazelton from Harvard University said he "understands parents' frustration" and agrees that many pediatricians "are not trained well enough in child behavior and development."
According to Trudeau, the study "did find about 20% of the families went to pediatric practices that provided many ingredients important to parents, including home visits, telephone advice lines, developmental assessments, informational videos and brochures." She noted that "several initiatives are underway around the country, in medical schools and in pediatric practice, that are testing this model of expanded services. Anecdotal evidence claims high rates of parent satisfaction and loyalty to these pediatric clinicians. Scientific studies are now underway to assess whether these retraining and retooling programs are truly effective and cost-sensible" ("Morning Edition," 4/3).