Anticipatory guidance topics: are more better?

Ambul Pediatr. 2005 Nov-Dec;5(6):372-6. doi: 10.1367/A04-2131R1.1.


Objective: Anticipatory guidance is a cornerstone of primary care pediatrics. Despite the fact that retention of information is essential for later action, data are lacking on what parents recall immediately after the visit and 1 month later and how the total number of topics discussed affects this outcome.

Methods: Parents and practitioners completed postvisit surveys of anticipatory guidance topics discussed during health-maintenance visits for children ages 2-11. Postvisit and 1 month later, parental recall was compared with provider report of topics discussed. We examined the relationship between parental recall and the total number of topics discussed.

Results: Families with children ages 2-11 years from across the United States participated in this study (N = 861). Providers reported discussing the topics of nutrition, car restraints, dental care, and reading aloud most often (72%- 93%). Concordance between parent and provider was high for all topics (72%-90%). Immediately postvisit, parents reported 6.33 (SD 2.9) as the mean number of topics discussed while providers reported 6.9 (SD 2.7) as the mean number of topics discussed. However, parental recall decreased significantly with more topics (> or =9) discussed. The same trend existed 1 month later.

Conclusions: Providers and parents have good agreement about topics discussed or not discussed during a well-child visit; however, parental recall dwindles with increasing numbers of topics discussed. Rethinking well-child care to limit the total number of topics discussed is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child Guidance*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall
  • Office Visits
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Professional-Family Relations
  • Time Factors