While most parents and caregivers stay on top of their children’s regular visitation schedule well, they may not always make the most of it, a new national survey suggests.
Most parents report their child has had a good visit in the past two years, and two-thirds say they always see the same provider, according to the University of Michigan Health’s CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Survey of Child Health . However, fewer parents took all the recommended steps to prepare and prepare their children in advance.
Regular health visits mean guaranteed face time with your child’s doctor and an opportunity not only to discuss specific concerns and questions about your child’s health, but also to get their advice on general health topics such as nutrition , sleep and behavior”.
Sarah Clark, MPH, co-director of Mott Poll
“We were pleased to see that most parents make these appointments regularly and maintain relationships with a trusted provider. But they may not always be taking a proactive approach to making sure they address all relevant health issues that affect health physically, emotionally and behaviorally of your child. at each visit.”
Before visits, a quarter of parents say they often prepare a list of questions to ask the provider, while just over half said they sometimes write things down and about a fifth said they never.
Meanwhile, about a fifth of parents say they often write down information about their child’s health changes, while half say they sometimes take this step and three in 10 don’t do it at all.
“Visits are busy, and it’s easy for parents to forget to raise questions or concerns with a doctor in the moment,” Clark said. “Writing them down ahead of time will help prioritize topics and help you get the most out of the appointment.”
Less than 15% of parents say they often research information online to talk to the provider, while about half often do and 38% never do.
“We are constantly learning new information that may affect children’s health, and some recommendations may evolve or be updated,” Clark said. “Many pediatricians and care providers will cover these topics themselves, but not always. It’s always helpful for parents to do their homework ahead of time to make sure they’re aware of any topics that affect their child’s age group. his son.”
Preparing the children for the visit
Two in five parents say they often take steps to prepare their child for an upcoming health visit by addressing any fears they may have, while slightly more than sometimes do so, while slightly less than one out of five never does. A quarter of parents also often offer rewards for cooperation, while less than half often use such incentives.
For parents of children ages 6 to 12, just over one in five also regularly ask the child to think of questions for the provider.
“As children approach puberty, their bodies begin to change. A well visit is a great opportunity for the provider to explain why these changes are happening,” Clark said.
“Getting kids to think about health issues is also good practice as they get older and parents become less involved with health visits. Preparing early for this transition will benefit them when they have to become more responsible of his health”.
Most parents also remember completing questionnaires and checklists about their child at care visits. Among these parents, most say they understand the purpose, but only three-quarters say they receive feedback about how their child is doing.
“Children and their families are more often given questionnaires at visits to help identify issues such as sleep problems, challenges affecting emotional health and behavioral health issues,” Clark said. “But when time is short, that may not come up during the actual visit. It’s important for parents to have conversations with providers about any issues that may arise from the child’s or family’s responses.”
See providers familiar with your child’s history
Nearly half of parents say they schedule visits well with their child’s regular provider even if they have a long wait for an appointment. A third of parents also strongly agree that their child is more likely to follow advice if it comes from a provider their child knows well.
For their child’s most recent visit, more than half of parents also rated the provider as excellent for learning about the child’s health history, answering all of their questions, and giving realistic recommendations for the family.
Clark says a primary care physician familiar with a child and their specific health history will help them stay healthy, prevent illness and disease by identifying risk factors and taking appropriate steps to manage child care. chronic diseases
“We know that staying with the same provider has long-term health benefits for children. Parents surveyed whose children always see the same provider for well visits are also more likely to rate the provider as excellent ·slow,” Clark said.
“Building a relationship with a primary care provider means that the health professional who knows your child best is the one who provides individualized care and helps your family make important decisions that affect their health.”
However, when visits are scheduled with a different provider, whether by choice or necessity, “parents can benefit from different explanations or perspectives about their child’s health,” adds Clark.
The nationally representative report is based on responses from 1,331 parents with children ages 1 to 12 who were surveyed between August and September 2022.
Five ways to ensure the most productive children’s visit, according to Mott experts:
Build a lasting relationship of trust with the same primary care provider your child always sees for appointments, which may include a pediatrician, another family doctor, or a nurse. Write down questions about your child’s physical, emotional, and behavioral health in the same place they revisit when a child is due for a visit. Share input from teachers or day care providers about the child’s behavior or school performance and ask the primary care provider about the need for further evaluation or therapy. Prepare the children for the visit. If there is a physical exam, talk to them about what to expect. For young children who need shots or blood draws, prepare them with books ahead of time, consider comfortable positions and distractions like cartoons on screens during shots, or give them something fun to look forward to after the visit like ice cream . Never promise them they won’t get a shot. For older children, help them come up with a list of questions to ask the doctor themselves.
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