Child health communication topics can be challenging and complex. Often a degree of sensitivity and understanding is needed due to the emotional nature when health issues concern children.
Below is a collection of recent child health communication research which will help you communicate more effectively on these topics.
1. Child health and parental support is positively impacted by a campaign promoting ‘active play’
A study published in the Journal of Health Communication investigated the effectiveness of a TV campaign called ‘Make Room for Play.’
The campaign aimed to educate parents on the importance of active play and how screen time negatively impacts on this.
Canadian-based researchers collated data through a survey of 1576 parents and caregivers.
Parental support was significantly higher in those who could recall the campaign (p=0.009).
A higher number of parents engaged in active play with their children (24%) as well as creating active play opportunities for their children (21.2%) compared to those who could not recall the campaign (14% and 12% respectively).
2. A website for parents of children with type 1 diabetes increases knowledge and life-satisfaction
Researchers aimed to develop a resource as a primary measure for parents of children with type 1 diabetes, using parents’ feedback of the current diabetes websites available.
US-based researchers conducted the study in two parts. The first part involved obtaining feedback obtained through focus groups, surveys and interviews.
The second stage of the research involved using the feedback to help design, build and then pilot an 8-week study of the website. A specific focus was providing information to parents of children with T1D.
Results of the pilot suggest parents and caregivers had significantly more knowledge as well as life-satisfaction. This result aims to build on the goal of increasing parents’ ability to cope as well as reduce stress in caring for a family member with type 1 diabetes.
The research was published in the Journal of Health Communication.
3. Media campaign does not sugar-coat the risks of sweetened drinks
Cross-sectional survey results of 1367 US parents of children aged 3 to 16 years old reveal the children reduced their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages after being exposed to a theory-driven media campaign.
A campaign created by the Philadelphia Department of Public Health aired via cable TV channels in Philadelphia.
Results found campaign exposure was significantly associated with the belief that reduced-sugar drinks decreased diabetes risk.
The study abstract is available in the Journal of Health Promotion.
4. Consumer-generated health data has positive outcomes for consumers
A recent study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research discussed how consumers used consumer-generated health data (CGHD).
Australian-based researchers were interested in how CGHD was used by consumers and how consumer engagement was influenced through a validated framework.
Researchers conducted the study in two parts. The first part involved interviews with CGHD-experienced patients as well as interviews with parents of children in hospital.
The second part of the study was a pilot trial involving carers of children who were undergoing a laparoscopic procedure with subsequent carer interviews.
Results from 60 interviews suggest CGHD lends support for positive consumer engagement through increased levels of patient-reassurance and emotional wellbeing as well as increased physician insights into their patients’ world.
5. The least educational non-branded food placements were found in older children’s entertainment programs
Spanish-based researchers carried out a content analysis of non-branded food placements viewed in 25 international cartoons for children between the ages of 3 and 12 years.
Results from 4,790 minutes of viewing time revealed a total of 1,065 food placements, resulting in a rate of one food placement every five minutes.
The frequency of recommended versus non-recommended foods to be consumed was balanced. However, when stratified by age and country of origin, the least educational messages were found in those programmes aimed at older children and from North American backgrounds.
The study is published in the Journal of Health Communication.
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6. Parental active guidance plays a positive role in children’s healthy food consumption behaviour
Researchers from Singapore Universities surveyed 210 children aged between 10 – 16 years to understand and predict children’s intakes of fruit and vegetable consumption using the theory of planned behaviour (TPB).
The study included the concepts of active parental guidance (such as education in nutrition) and restrictive parental guidance (such as setting rules) in the TPB model.
Published in the Journal of Health Communication, the research showed the theory of planned behaviour had positive contributions in predicting fruit and vegetable consumption behaviour in children.
7. Preconception care is ‘the next frontier’ in improving maternal-child care
Preconception care is the next frontier in improving maternal-child health care, according to a short communication piece published in the journal Public Health.
As more research delves into the inner workings of the gut microbiome, it has become more evident the critical role these healthy germs play in physiological functions in the human body.
And it all starts from the transgenerational transmission of these germs from mother to infant during birth.
More focus on preconception care could help to reduce pregnancy complications and childhood diseases.
8. The importance to take pause and reflect on the patient ‘’lens’’ on the communication of health issues – an editorial
A recent editorial published in the Journal of Communication in Healthcare discusses the deficit information model, a model born in the 1970s by social scientists, and the role this model plays in parent decision-making about vaccines and weight-loss.
The deficit information model theorised if people had knowledge of science and technology, they would be more willing to embrace it and be complicit of medical advice in their health decision-making processes.
The authors discuss how this model has instead bred a paternalistic, one-way communication style, rather than one of empowerment and share-decision making between patient and health provider.
As a result, patients deviate from ‘’authoritative, medically-based advice’’, not because of the advice, but because the advice fails to consider the whole individual, where cultural and personal beliefs play a pivotal role in overall advice adherence.
9. Parental health literacy impacts on knowledge acquisition, decision-making and ultimately health-outcomes for the child
US-based researchers discuss the implications of poor health literacy in parents and the effects this has on health decision-making outcomes for the child.
One in four parents have low levels of health literacy. Therefore, their ability to access health information and make informed health decisions for their children is compromised.
Authors discuss the opportunities for healthcare providers to align health communication strategies in a ”universal precautions approach” which benefits all parents, irrespective of health literacy level.
This recent article is published in the Journal of Pediatrics in Review.
10. A structured patient-family communication intervention reduces harmful errors in paediatric inpatient units
Researchers carried out a prospective, multicentre intervention study between 2014 – 2017 targeting family health literacy by producing a standardised patient-family communication strategy during paediatric inpatient rounds in North America.
A cohort of families (n=2148), allied medical staff and trainees (n=1224) participated and produced the patient-family communication intervention.
The intervention focused on health literacy, dual communication between family and healthcare provider as well as real-time written notes of rounds.
Results from the intervention found no statistically significant change in overall medical errors (the primary aims of the study) before or after the intervention; however, there was a 37.9% decrease in harmful errors post-intervention.
Furthermore, family engagement and experience increased as a result of the intervention.
The study is published in the British Medical Journal.
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