Background: Urinary tract infection (UTI) in childhood can be diagnosed in 5% of febrile infants. Renal scarring is associated with increasing numbers of UTI episodes, and the incidence of renal scarring rises with each urinary infection. High levels of awareness of childhood UTI are important among both professionals and parents. Whilst problems for professionals in making the diagnosis have been explored, few data exist concerning parental understanding and perspectives.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess parental understanding of UTI in their child and identify any delay perceived in the diagnosis, along with identifying how helpful parents had found any information that they had been given.
Methods: Subjects were the parents of children aged <2 years being investigated in one out-patient department following proven UTI. A semi-structured questionnaire was given to parents at first attendance (quantitative data) and content analysis of qualitative data was carried out.
Results: Fifty-two out of 84 parents responded (response rate 64%), of whom 45 (86.5%) felt that they had been given a full explanation of the significance of UTI in childhood. Forty percent felt that clean catch was the easiest method of obtaining a urine sample from their child. Although the quantitative data were positive, several themes were identified in the qualitative data, relating to lack of awareness, delay in investigation by health professionals and issues regarding the information that had been imparted to parents. Parents would like more information about the illness that affects their child, and many would like this in leaflet form.
Conclusions: Parents perceive low awareness levels and delays in investigation of UTI in childhood amongst health professionals. Increasing awareness about the importance of UTI in childhood, its incidence and management should be generated amongst health professionals who deal with young children. Parents need and would like more information about the disease and how to identify it, with guidance on urine collection. Further research is needed into whether educational strategies for either parents or health professionals are effective in identifying UTI earlier, and what the best methods of implementing these would be.