Objectives: In Japan, Maternal and Child Health (MCH) handbook have been widely used for more than fifty years. However, there has been no evaluation research from the users' point of view. We therefore conducted a questionnaire survey of guardians to evaluate how they utilize MCH handbooks.
Methods: A well-structured questionnaire survey was carried out in 231 municipalities, towns and villages of four prefectures (Gifu, Hiroshima, Niigata and Shizuoka) and one city (Yokohama) in November and December 1999. The targets were 13,271 guardians who visited health stations for 18-month examinations of their children and agreed to participated in our research. The questionnaire covered situation of usage and loss by guardians, utility from the users' perspective, and suggestions for improvement.
Results: We obtained answers from 10,900 guardians. As for reading rate and writing rate, 98.3% of respondents had read and 97.8% of them had written down something in relation. Only 0.9% of respondents had lost this MCH handbook. Generally, 87.0% of respondents answered that MCH handbook was helpful for child bearing and 81.6% of them said the record for immunization was useful. However, 34.1% of respondents answered it was not simple to utilize MCH handbook and 60.6% of them requested more detail on child bearing. As for dental health, the completion rate for information was low and only 21.3% of respondents reported for the dental record was useful.
Conclusions: The research shows MCH handbook are highly utilized in Japan by almost all guardians. However, there are still problems to be solved; many guardians feel that they are not simple to use and the section on dental health is not highly particularly helpful. Improvements should be made in future in light of the viewpoints of guardians and parents.