Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

More than 1 in 10 parents listen to their children's pediatricians 'only occasionally': poll

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It's safe to say this isn't what the doctor ordered.

A University of Michigan poll attempted to gauge how well – and how often – parents listen to their children's doctors, and found that only about 1 in 3 parents in the U.S. do so "all the time."

Another 56 percent say they'll follow a pediatrician's advice "most of the time."

The poll's assistant director, Sarah Clark, said in a press release that the results "suggest that many parents aren't heeding [doctors'] advice consistently, putting kids at risk for long-lasting health concerns."

About 13 percent say they follow their children's doctor's advice "only occasionally." According to the poll, they're most likely to follow advice about:

  • Nutrition.
  • Going to the dentist.
  • Using car seats or booster seats.

But they're least likely to listen to what their children's doctor has to say about:

  • Discipline.
  • Bedtime/naptime.
  • Watching TV.

The poll found that income and ethnicity correlate with how often parents listen to their children's doctor. Black and Latino parents were "twice as likely to follow provider advice only occasionally" compared to white parents, and parents who lived in a household that made less than $60,000 annually are more than twice as likely to do the same.

Experts aren't too pleased about the lack of listening:

This poll shows that 1 in 10 parents do not consistently follow the advice of their children's healthcare provider. Even more concerning is that occasional adherence to provider advice is higher among certain populations (poorer families, non-white families) whose children are known to have higher rates of health problems such as obesity, [Sudden Infant Death Syndrome], and tooth decay.

Disparately high rates of obesity and a widespread lack of access to dental health care services are certainly realities in South Los Angeles.

The poll also noted that parents' perceptions of the quality of care given to their children by a doctor plays a role in whether they listen to that doctor. More than 90 percent of parents who said their children's pediatrician is "excellent" at talking to them in an understandable, accessible way listened to that doctor's advice all the time. But as far as doctors who are "good," "fair" or "poor" at communicating clearly, less than half (46 percent) of parents say they listen to them only occasionally.

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