OBJECTIVE. This study's aim was to elicit the perspectives of minority parents on their expectations of pediatric health care providers as a source of advice on “raising their child” and whether they would seek advice from these providers. A secondary aim was to demonstrate the value of qualitative methods for assessing parental attitudes in pediatric research.
METHODS. Mothers with children between 3 and 12 years of age who identified themselves as African American, Jamaican, Haitian, or Puerto Rican were recruited from community sites. Audiotaped focus groups were conducted by trained moderators using an interview guide, to obtain the perspectives of the participants regarding the role of pediatric providers in the provision of parenting advice.
RESULTS. Ninety-one mothers participated in a total of 20 focus groups, with 4 to 6 discussions per ethnocultural group. The focus groups revealed that, in general, parents do not look to child health care providers for advice on raising their children. The identified themes emphasized the importance of the relationship between providers and families. A few parents had the type of relationship within which the pediatrician already functioned as a provider of parenting advice. Physicians were considered skilled in the maintenance of physical health. The parents expressed a desire to receive more anticipatory guidance on developmental and behavioral stages and milestones. Pediatricians also served specific administrative functions valued by parents.
CONCLUSIONS. Minority parents of preschool-aged and school-aged children do not view the primary care provider's role as including the provision of parenting advice. Expectations must be modified to enable health care professionals to function effectively in the role of advisor regarding parenting issues.