Brief approaches to developmental-behavioral promotion in primary care: updates on methods and technology

Pediatrics. 2014 May;133(5):884-97. doi: 10.1542/peds.2013-1859.


Well-child visits are a critical opportunity to promote learning and development, encourage positive parenting practices, help children acquire behavioral self-control, enhance the development and well-being of children and their families, identify problems not amenable to brief in-office counseling, and refer for services when needed. This article outlines the communication skills, instructional methods, and resource options that enable clinicians to best assist families. Also covered is how to monitor progress and outcomes. A total of 239 articles and 52 Web sites on parent/patient education were reviewed for this study. Providers require a veritable armamentarium of instructional methods. Skills in nonverbal and verbal communication are needed to elicit the parent/patient agenda, winnow topics to a manageable subset, and create the "teachable moment." Verbal suggestions, with or without standardized spoken instructions, are useful for conveying simple messages. However, for complex issues, such as discipline, it is necessary to use a combination of verbal advice, written information, and "teach-back," aided by role-playing/modeling or multimedia approaches. Selecting the approaches most likely to be effective depends on the topic and family characteristics (eg, parental literacy and language skills, family psychosocial risk and resilience factors, children's developmental-behavioral status). When providers collaborate well (with parents, patients, and other service providers) and select appropriate educational methods, families are better able to act on advice, leading to improvements in children's well-being, health, and developmental-behavioral outcomes. Provided are descriptions of methods, links to parenting resources such as cell phone applications, Web sites (in multiple languages), interactive technology, and parent training courses.

Keywords: collaboration; family centered care; parent training; parent-provider communication; patient education; preventive care; referral; teachable moment; well-child visits.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / etiology
  • Child Behavior Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Counseling
  • Developmental Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Developmental Disabilities / etiology
  • Developmental Disabilities / prevention & control*
  • Education, Nonprofessional*
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Quality of Life
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Risk Factors