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Module 5: Anticipatory Guidance and Parental Education

A critical strategy to improve the care provided in your practice is to meet parents' informational needs and elicit their concerns in a systematic, standard way. A national study found that 94 percent of parents reported one or more unmet need for parenting guidance, education, and screening by pediatric clinicians. Parents who report having their informational needs met are more likely to follow positive parenting behaviors than parents whose needs are not met. Furthermore, when asked about the aspects of preventive and developmental health care they most value, parents are most likely to note the anticipatory guidance and parental education they receive from their children's pediatric providers. With an overwhelming array of recommended clinical topics to address during each encounter, clinicians need to prioritize what topics to cover and focus on the highest-priority topics for individual families. This increases the likelihood that the topics most salient to the family will receive attention and supports communication between clinician and family. Using a standardized tool or survey or asking a simple question such as "Please tell me any concerns about the way your child is behaving, learning, and developing?" can help clinicians learn what issues or topics families want to discuss during office visits. This section will help you to meet the informational needs of parents and families. It includes:

In the Practitioner's Own Words

Since the parent tells you what's going on with the child, it really helps you figure out how to target your anticipatory guidance. You're still going to throw in your favorite topics, whether they are bike helmets or car seats. But now you're making sure that both sets of concerns get addressed—the parent's concerns and the provider's. When this happens, we have found that satisfaction goes way up for the family and the pediatrician.
Marian Earls, M.D., Guilford Child Health