Aim: Parents are ultimately responsible for organising and accessing health services for their children. How parents experience those services are likely to influence subsequent use. Understanding parental preference for service provision can inform compliance strategies with recommended child health recommendations. The aim of this study was to explore parental experiences and preferences which influence subsequent use of post-discharge health services for children born preterm with a birthweight
Methods: Focus groups consisted of randomly selected families recruited from a population-based cross-sectional cohort study of 2-, 4- and 7-year-old children corrected age for prematurity. Parents were asked to consider which aspects of childhood health service delivery influenced subsequent use. Transcripts were analysed and themes constructed. SWOT analysis evaluated health service practices by systematically mapping parents' accounts of the perceived strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O) and threats (T) of services in relation to subsequent use.
Results: Fifteen parents participated in three groups (by children's age). Three dominant themes emerged and included (i) assistance with accessing appropriate services; (ii) provision of consistent information and comprehensive child health records; and (iii) support of parental self-efficacy in the health care of their child.
Conclusion: Primary health carers are ideally suited to co-ordinate and provide continuity to improve parental involvement and compliance with health promoting recommendations for their preterm children. This approach may improve interagency co-operation and access to services enabling early identification and intervention. Adopting these strategies may be effective in optimising child health follow-up strategies and improve uptake of recommended intervention and prevention programmes.