Listen to the parentsBMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7063.954 (Published 19 October 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:954
- Helen Roberts, Coordinator of research and development
- Policy and Development Unit, Barnardo's, Barkingside, Essex IG6 1QG
They may know best
There are two contrasting perspectives on the way patients and their parents use health services. When searching the literature on out of hours and emergency treatment, helpful keywords are “inappropriate” and “misuse.”1 Meanwhile, there is evidence that parents are more effective than professionals in the early diagnosis of a wide range of child health problems.2 3
Three qualitative studies reported in this week's BMJ4 5 6 address these contrasting views, which are at the heart of general practice. Children with trivial complaints, parental anxiety, and out of hours calls make major demands on general practitioners' time. But the antecedents of these calls make demands on the wellbeing of parents, usually mothers, whose hours of work and on call duties can make the commitment of even the most overworked general practitioner seem modest.
The two papers …