Deakin University

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Parental management of childhood complaints: over-the-counter medicine use and advice-seeking behaviours

journal contribution
posted on 2010-07-01, 00:00 authored by M Trajanovska, Elizabeth ManiasElizabeth Manias, N Cranswick, L Johnston
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: To explore parental management of childhood complaints with respect to factors associated with the purchase of over-the-counter medicines and sources of information accessed by parents. BACKGROUND: The use of over-the-counter medicines is extensive, but this practice is not without risks. To ensure safe use, nurses and other healthcare providers need to understand parental reasons for purchase and sources of information they access regarding management practices. DESIGN: A cross-sectional survey. METHOD: Three-hundred and twenty-five parents of children (aged birth to 24 months) were recruited between September 2006-June 2007 from three recruitment sites across Melbourne, Australia. These included the following: outpatient clinics at a major paediatric hospital, maternal and child health centres and a childcare service of a tertiary education institution. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire. RESULT: Most parents (82%) purchased over-the-counter medicines if suggested by the doctor and if it had been effective in the past. Doctors were the most frequently cited source of advice for management of complaints such as an ear ache (95%), wheeziness (90%) and rash (77%). Advice from maternal and child health nurses was frequently sought for sleep difficulties (60%), while family or friends were sought for advice on irritability or crankiness (47%) and teething pain (44%). CONCLUSIONS: The findings revealed the impact of healthcare provider recommendations on parental purchase of over-the-counter medicines. Parents mainly sought information and advice from doctors, followed by maternal and child health nurses and family or friends, which appeared to be dependent on the type of childhood complaint. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: The use of over-the-counter medicines for symptom management is likely to increase with enhanced focus on self-care. It is important for all healthcare providers to proactively provide accurate, consistent and evidence-based information to parents regarding appropriate management of symptomatic and behavioural complaints.



Journal of clinical nursing






2065 - 2075




Chichester, Eng.







Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2010, Blackwell