Information resources to aid parental decision-making on when to seek medical care for their acutely sick child: a narrative systematic review

Sarah Neill, Damian Roland, Caroline H D Jones, Matthew Thompson, Monica Lakhanpaul

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticle

Abstract

Objective: To identify the effectiveness of information resources to help parents decide when to seek medical care for an acutely sick child under 5 years of age, including the identification of factors influencing effectiveness, by systematically reviewing the literature. Methods: 5 databases and 5 websites were systematically searched using a combination of terms on children, parents, education, acute childhood illness. A narrative approach, assessing quality via the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool, was used due to noncomparable research designs. Results: 22 studies met the inclusion criteria: 9 randomised control trials, 8 non-randomised intervention studies, 2 qualitative descriptive studies, 2 qualitative studies and 1 mixed method study. Consultation frequency (15 studies), knowledge (9 studies), anxiety/reassurance (7 studies), confidence (4 studies) satisfaction (4 studies) and antibiotic prescription (4 studies) were used as measures of effectiveness. Quality of the studies was variable but themes supported information needing to be relevant and comprehensive to enable parents to manage an episode of minor illness Interventions addressing a range of symptoms along with assessment and management of childhood illness, appeared to have the greatest impact on the reported measures. The majority of interventions had limited impact on consultation frequencies, No conclusive evidence can be drawn from studies measuring other outcomes. Conclusions: Findings confirm that information needs to be relevant and comprehensive to enable parents to manage an episode of minor illness. Incomplete information leaves parents still needing to seek help and irrelevant information appears to reduce parents’ trust in the intervention. Interventions are more likely to be effective if they are also delivered in non-stressful environments such as the home and are co-produced with parents.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBMJ Open
Volume5
Issue number12
Early online date16 Dec 2015
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Dec 2015

Keywords

  • Parents
  • decision making
  • information resources
  • acute childhood illness
  • narrative review

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  • Impacts

    Helping Parents Identify Symptoms in Sick Children with the Health Innovation Network and the National Health Service

    Sarah Jane Neill (Principal Investigator)

    Impact: Health and Well-Being impacts, Quality of life impacts, 10: Reduced Inequalities (UN SDG)

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