A qualitative evaluation of parents’ experiences of health literacy information about common childhood conditions


Amanda Lees*, Kit Tapson*, Sanjay Patel**


*Health and Wellbeing Research Group, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester SO22 4NR. **Division of Women and Children, Mailpoint 43, Southampton Children’s Hospital, Tremona Road, Southampton SO16 6YD


This article reports the findings from a qualitative service evaluation of health literacy resources for parents of children aged 0-4 on six common paediatric conditions (abdominal pain, asthma/wheeze, bronchiolitis, diarrhoea/vomiting, fever and head injury). These have been launched across Wessex as part of the Healthier Together (HT) project and consist of a website and paper-based resources designed to provide easily accessible facts about common childhood conditions, advice on actions to take in the event of certain symptoms and when and where to seek medical help. Eighteen semi-structured interviews were conducted to investigate parents’ experiences of and reactions to the resources. We investigated perceived effects on parental understandings and feelings about childhood illness and help seeking behaviours. We discuss findings under four main headings: Parental interaction with HT resources, Parents’ anxieties concerning their children’s health, Positive evaluation and Areas for improvement. Parents positively evaluated the aims of the project and the information provided. A small number gave examples of resulting behaviour change and several anticipated future changes. Parents expressed anxiety about childhood illness and making treatment decisions. They required simple and easy to navigate resources including prominent risk assessment information. Communication by health professionals that reassures and empowers parents was also seen as important. Whilst this was a small study we believe that the findings are of relevance to others producing, disseminating and explaining health information aimed at parents and other patient groups.

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