- Apprehensive parents: a qualitative study on parents seeking immediate primary care for their children
- British Journal of General Practice
- Volume | Issue number
- 59 | 560
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Background: Children are more frequent users of out-of-hours primary care than other age groups, although their medical problems are less urgent.
Aim: To gain insight into the health-seeking behaviour of parents who ask for immediate medical attention for their children.
Design of study: Qualitative analysis of interviews and telephone calls.
Setting: A general practice out-of-hours cooperative that caters for approximately 300 000 people in The Netherlands.
Method: A semi-structured interview was conducted with 27 parents who had consulted their own GP or an out-of-hours facility for primary care because they wanted urgent medical attention for their child who was sick. Forty-four telephone calls from parents seeking medical care for a child were analysed.
Results: Recognising symptoms in a child started with the observation of a deviation from the child's normal appearance or behaviour. Parents decided to contact medical services when they felt they lost control of the situation. Most parents consulted because they wanted to rule out or prevent serious disease, not because of the condition itself; not wanting to take a risk with their child was an important motivation. In an attempt to rule out serious disease at home, parents also attempted diagnostic procedures they had copied from professionals.
Conclusion: Worry of parents and their health-seeking behaviour can be seen as an expression of the central role of risk regulation in modern society. Doctors need to realise their own contribution to the way parents want to rule out serious disease in their children. Improving parents' knowledge will not solve the problem of inappropriate use of out-of-hours facilities.
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