Pediatricians through their participation in primary, secondary, and tertiary health care services have the opportunity and the responsibility for guiding parents in the health care of their children as well as protecting the health of children and adolescents. More than any other health care provider, pediatricians have the requisite longitudinal and cross-sectional perspective, and a background in biologic and psychological development. In providing optimal child and family health care, the American Academy of Pediatrics seeks to enhance the important contributions of pediatricians in relation to basic health needs as reflected in the psychosocial aspects of child and family life. The purpose of this statement is to define that role.
Over the past four decades, pediatric education, research, and practice have been enriched by inclusion of relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes from the behavioral and social sciences, child development, education, and child psychiatry. The extensive scientific and experiential knowledge base applicable to pediatric practice includes normal growth and development; adaptive and pathologic psychosocial development; the nature of parentchild and family relationships; child care and parenting practices and their relation to different family styles and ethnic and cultural back-grounds; reactions of children of various ages to illness and death; nature and significance of psychometric tests to assess status, aptitude, and achievements; opportunities for preventive intervention in primary care and counseling at-risk families; and principles of the psychotherapeutic role of the pediatrician.
As a primary care physician and consultant, the pediatrician is increasingly expected to be concerned with the prevention, early detection, and management of psychosocial problems pertinent to optimal child and family health and development.