Brett Smith for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
According to a new national poll from the University of Michigan´s C.S. Mott Children´s Hospital, only about one-third of parents say they always follow their pediatrician´s advice.
“During well-child visits, health care providers give parents and guardians advice about how to keep their kids healthy and safe,” said Sarah J. Clark, an associate director of the National Poll on Children’s Health at the university. “This poll suggests that many parents aren’t heeding that advice consistently, putting kids at risk for long-lasting health concerns.”
According to the poll results, 31 percent of parents said they always follow the recommendations from their child’s health care provider all of the time, while 13 percent reported that they follow the provider’s advice only occasionally.
Socio-economic status had an impact on the poll´s results as households that earned less than $60,000 annually were more than twice as likely to admit that they follow provider advice occasionally, compared to parents from higher-income households, 17 percent to 8 percent, respectively. African American and Hispanic parents are also twice as likely to follow provider advice only occasionally, 22 percent and 18 percent, compared to white parents, at 9 percent.
Clark said that unfortunately many health risks, such as childhood obesity, are closely tied to parenting behaviors. Some parenting behaviors can result in a more immediate threat to their child´s well being, like laying an infant down in a prone position, which is associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
“Even more concerning is that certain populations (poorer families, non-white families) were more likely to report following advice only occasionally,” Clark said. “The children in these populations are known to have higher rates of health problems such as obesity, SIDS, and tooth decay.”
In an encouraging sign, 56 percent of parents said they follow their health care provider’s advice “most of the time.”
The study went into greater detail by asking parents to choose what type of advice they were most and least likely to follow. Parents who reported occasionally following provider advice said they were most likely to follow advice on nutrition, going to the dentist, and using child car seats. They said they were least likely to follow advice on discipline, putting the child to sleep and time watching TV.
The poll also showed that parents’ approval rating of their provider is closely linked to whether or not they follow provider advice. Forty-six percent of parents who rated their child’s provider as “good/fair/poor” said they follow provider advice only occasionally.
Hospital officials who conducted the poll said overcoming dissatisfaction among certain parents could be the key to raising health outcomes for children. They added that providers need to reach out to parents and connect with them over the health of their children.
“Providers should work on using clear language, asking parents about their concerns, and giving practical examples of what works with children of different ages,” Davis said.
He added that parents also have a role in communicating with their provider.
“This poll suggests that parents need to ask for clarification if they are unsure about what the provider is saying, or why it’s important,” Davis said.