OBJECTIVE: To explore situations in which parents with an ill child consult a physician and to identify trigger factors for consultation.
DESIGN AND SETTINGS: Qualitative interviews with parents of young children. Parents were asked to describe the situation in which the decision to contact the physician was made.
SUBJECTS: A total of 20 families selected from a birth cohort from Frederiksborg County. The cohort numbered 194 of 389 children born between 1 and 28 February 2001. The cohort was followed prospectively from the age of 9 to 12 months by diary (January-April), and retrospectively from birth to the age of 9 months by questionnaire. Families were chosen on the basis of information provided in a questionnaire, diary illness pattern and a telephone conversation.
RESULTS: Nine trigger factors associated with physician contacts were identified. Parents' answers demonstrated how their feelings and logical reasoning while caring for an ill child led them to consult the physician. The main reasons for consultation were children's protracted or aggravated symptoms. Parents initially tried to handle the situation but when unsuccessful information and advice was sought by consulting a physician.
CONCLUSIONS: Parents consult the physician when they feel overtaxed, afraid, or inadequately prepared to care for their ill child. They considered seriously whether to consult a physician or not.
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