Do Parents Expect Pediatricians to Pay Attention to Behavioral Health?

Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2015 Aug;54(9):888-93. doi: 10.1177/0009922815569199. Epub 2015 Feb 2.


Background and objective: This study is a qualitative analysis examining caregivers' expectations for pediatricians with regard to behavioral health care.

Methods: Fifty-five parents/caregivers of children seen in an urban primary care clinic participated in semistructured interviews. Participants were parents or guardians of children between the ages of 2 and 17 years, referred from the pediatric clinic to the mental health center. Interviews were analyzed using grounded theory methods.

Results: Pertinent themes were the following: expected range of care, components of an effective primary care provider (PCP) relationship, action of the PCP, and parent reaction to PCP intervention. Forty-seven percent of caregivers saw the PCP role as strictly for physical health care; 53% expected the PCP to have a role in both physical and behavioral health. Responses were overwhelmingly positive from caregivers when the PCP asked about or conducted a behavioral health intervention.

Conclusion: Caregivers did not consistently expect but responded positively to PCPs engaging around behavioral health concerns.

Keywords: behavioral medicine; community mental health services; pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Pediatrics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Physician's Role / psychology*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data