Addressing Parental Health in Pediatrics: Physician Perceptions of Relevance and Responsibility

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Pediatric guidelines recommend that providers address a range of parental health issues; however, adherence to these guidelines has been suboptimal. Drawing on a nationally-representative sample of children’s primary care physicians, we examined whether providers view parental issues as relevant to child health and whether they believe it is their personal responsibility to address them. Issues included maternal depression, tobacco use, intimate partner violence, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and acellular pertussis) immunization, family planning, and health insurance. While the majority of respondents endorsed the relevance of these issues to child health, particularly for issues with an established evidencebase, significantly fewer felt responsible for addressing them. Physicians who endorsed relevance or responsibility were almost always more likely to address these issues in their clinical practice. To advance parental health promotion practices, highlighting relevance to pediatric outcomes is an important first step, particularly for novel areas, while understanding what factors influence personal responsibility is necessary for all issues.

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