OBJECTIVE:

The aim of this study was to better understand the utility of using the Parents' Evaluation of Developmental Status (PEDS) in well-child visits by analyzing themes and patterns in parents' written responses on the PEDS form.

METHODS:

We reviewed a consecutive sample of medical records with PEDS forms for children aged 6 months to 9 years (site 1) and 3 to 5 years (site 2). We recorded the concerns that parents identified in response to the 10 PEDS questions along with demographic information. We then categorized parents' written comments about those concerns according to comment content. We used qualitative and quantitative methods for analysis.

RESULTS:

We collected 752 PEDS forms. Ninety percent of the parents endorsed at least 1 concern (94.6% on the English forms versus 69.7% on the Spanish forms; P < .001). Parents qualified 27.5% of their concerns with a written comment. In 23.9% of cases in which parents identified a concern and provided a written comment, the content of the comment did not match the question's intent; rates of mismatch were similar for the English and Spanish forms. Among comments regarding behavioral concerns, 12% reflected a misunderstanding of age-appropriate behavior. Medical concerns accounted for 14.1% of the comments; these concerns were more common on English forms (61.3%) than on Spanish forms (1.7%) (P < .08). More than one-fourth of the comments reported behavior or development that was on target or advanced for the child's age.

CONCLUSIONS:

Parents frequently used the PEDS forms to communicate additional concerns regarding their child or provide positive feedback on their child's progress. The inappropriate developmental expectations, limited health literacy, and culturally distinct comments on the PEDS forms reinforce the importance of using screening tools to enhance the care provided during visits but not to replace patient-provider communication.

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