Parents' cooperation is essential to ensuring implementation of effective healthcare management of children, and complete openness should exist between paediatricians and parents. One method of achieving this is to send parents a copy of the outpatient letter to the general practitioner (GP) after the child's outpatient consultation. To determine the views of parents and GPs a pilot survey was conducted in two general children's outpatient clinics in hospitals in Newcastle upon Tyne. In March and April 1991 a postal questionnaire was sent to 57 parents of children attending the clinics, and a similar questionnaire to their GPs to elicit, respectively, parents' understanding of the letter and perception of its helpfulness, and GPs' views on the value of sending the letters to parents. Completed questionnaires were received from 34(60%) parents and 47(82%) GPs; 26(45%) respondents were matched pairs. 27(79%) parents said they understood all of the letter, 19(56%) that it helped their understanding, 32(94%) felt it was a good idea, and 31(91%) made positive comments. In all, 29(61%) GPs favoured the idea and six (13%) did not. Eleven (23%) said they would be concerned if this became routine practice, and 20(74%) of the 27 providing comments were doubtful or negative; several considered that they should communicate information to parents. The views in the matched pairs were dissimilar: parents were universally in favour whereas many GPs had reservations. The authors concluded that sending the letters improved parents' satisfaction with communication, and they recommend that paediatricians consider adopting this practice.
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