Is my child sick? Parents management of signs of illness and experiences of the medical encounter: Parents of recurrently sick children urge for more cooperation

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OBJECTIVES: Parents of sick children frequently visit their general practitioners (GPs). The aim was to explore parents' interpretation of their child's incipient signs and symptoms when falling ill and their subsequent unsatisfactory experience with the GP in order to make suggestions for improvements in the medical encounter.
DESIGN: Semi-structured interviews.
SETTING AND SUBJECTS: Twenty strategically selected families with a child from a birth cohort in Frederiksborg County, Denmark were interviewed.
RESULTS: Parents wanted to consult their GP at the right time, i.e. neither too early nor too late. Well-educated parents experienced a discrepancy between their knowledge about their child, the information they had sought about the illness and the consultation with the GP, when they were dismissed with phrases such as "it will disappear" or "it is just a virus". The parents went along with the GP's advice if the child only occasionally became sick. However, parents of children with recurrent illnesses seemed very frustrated. During the course of several consultations with their GP, they started to question the GP's competence as the child did not regain health.
CONCLUSIONS: Parents want to be acknowledged as competent collaborators. The GP's failure to acknowledge the parents' knowledge of their child's current illness, and the parents' attempt to identify what is wrong with the child and make the child feel better before the encounter may have consequences for the GP's credibility. It is therefore recommended that parents of children with recurrent illnesses receive extra attention and information.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)23-37
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ID: 32983118