OBJECTIVE: The content and systems surrounding well-child care have received increasing attention, and some propose that it is time to rethink both the delivery structure and central themes of well-child visits. A key, but largely missing perspective in these discussions has been that of parents, whose experiences and expectations are central to developing approaches responsive to family needs. In this study, we asked parents to address several core issues: why they attend well-child visits; aspects of well-child care that they find most valuable; and changes that could enhance the well-child care experience.

METHODS: Twenty focus groups with parents (n = 131 [91% mothers]) were conducted by using a semistructured interview guide. Verbatim transcripts were coded for key words, concepts, and recurrent themes.

RESULTS: Primary reasons for visit attendance included reassurance (child and parent) and an opportunity to discuss parent priorities. Families valued an ongoing relationship with 1 clinician who was child-focused and respected parental expertise, but continuity of provider was not an option for all participants. Suggestions for enhancement included improved promotion of well-child care, greater emphasis on development and behavior, and expanded options for information exchange.

CONCLUSIONS: As the consumers of care, it is critical to understand parents' needs and desires as changes to the content and process of well-child care are considered. Taking into account the multifaceted perspectives of families suggests both challenges and opportunities for the rethinking discussion.

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