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Editor,—We read with interest the article by Scheidt et al, which reported that most parents of young, injured children are neither upset nor threatened by questions about the circumstances of injury, and that they readily cooperate and perceive such work to be worthwhile.1 We would concur with this view and have further evidence in its support.
In the United Kingdom, all children under 5 years old are assigned a health visitor who carries out duties such as developmental screening and provides carers with a source of support, advice, and health promotion input. They develop a relationship with the child's family from an early age and may visit after an injury to provide injury prevention advice. We carried out a case-control study of children under 5 years attending an accident and emergency department with an unintentional injury. The child's own health visitor completed a lengthy and arguably sometimes intrusive questionnaire covering social, physical, and psychological aspects of the family with the main carer in their own home.
Altogether 78.4% responded to the questionnaire with few declining to answer any specific questions. Although we did not directly ask carers about their attitudes to the questions, we did formally explore this through their health visitors, who had concerns that the questionnaire might undermine their relationship with parents. While most parents did feel guilty about their child's injury, they were generally willing to participate in the study, including answering intrusive questions, and reported finding it a worthwhile exercise. The great majority (87.5%) of health visitors reported no adverse impact on their existing relationship with parents, 12.5% considered that participation had actually improved the relationship, and only one reported an adverse impact. This supports the findings of the study by Scheidt et al that interviews about injuries are of no or minimal risk.
The research was funded by a mini-project grant from the Chief Scientist Office, Scottish Office Department of Health.
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