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BMJ. 1996 Oct 19; 313(7063): 987–990.
PMCID: PMC2352333

Parents' difficulties and information needs in coping with acute illness in preschool children: a qualitative study.


OBJECTIVES: To identify and explore difficulties parents experience with acute illness in young children and the information they seek to help them. DESIGN: Qualitative study using semi-structured one t one and group interviews with parents of preschool children. SETTING: Disadvantaged inner city community. SUBJECTS: 95 parents of preschool children. RESULTS: Parents felt disempowered when dealing with acute illness in their children because of difficulties making sense of the illness. Central to parents' difficulties were their experiences of inadequate information sharing by their general practitioners and variations in their doctors' decisions and behaviour. Disparity between parents' beliefs and expectations about illness and treatment and professionals' behaviour further frustrated parents' attempts to understand illness. Parents expressed a need for a range of accessible and specific information to support them through their negotiation of children's illness. CONCLUSIONS: Communication with parents requires greater recognition of parents' difficulties. Professionals have considerable potential to empower parents by sharing more information and skills. Such information should be consistent and address parents' concerns, beliefs, and expressed needs if this potential is to be realised.

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Selected References

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