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Title: The safety netting behaviour of first contact clinicians: a qualitative study
Authors: Jones, C. H.
Neill, S.
Lakhanpaul, M.
Roland, Damian
Singlehurst-Mooney, H.
Thompson, M.
First Published: 25-Sep-2013
Publisher: BioMed Central
Citation: BMC Family Practice , 2013, 14 : 140
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Acute illness is common in childhood, and it is difficult for healthcare professionals to distinguish seriously ill children from the vast majority with minor or self-limiting illnesses. Safety netting provides parents with advice on when and where to return if their child deteriorates, and it is widely recommended that parents of acutely sick young children should be given safety netting advice. Yet little is known about how and when this is given. We aimed to understand what safety netting advice first contact clinicians give parents of acutely sick young children, how, when, and why. METHODS: This was a qualitative study. Interviews and focus groups were held with doctors and nurses in a general practice surgery, a District General Hospital emergency department, a paediatric emergency department, and an out-of-hours service. Data were analysed using the method of constant comparison. RESULTS: Sixteen clinicians participated. They described that safety netting advice includes advising parents what to look for, when and where to seek help. How safety netting was delivered and whether it was verbal or written was inconsistent, and no participants described being trained in this area. Safety netting appeared to be rarely documented, and was left to individual preference. Limitations of written materials, and structural barriers to the provision of safety netting, were perceived. Participants described that safety netting was influenced by clinicians' experience, confidence, time and knowledge; and perceived parental anxiety, experience, and competence. Participants noted several limitations to safety netting including not knowing if it has been understood by parents or been effective; parental difficulty interpreting information and desire for face-to-face reassurance; and potential over-reassurance. CONCLUSION: First contact clinicians employ a range of safety netting techniques, with inconsistencies within and between organisations. Structural changes, clinician training, and documentation in patient notes may improve safety netting provision. Research is needed into the optimal components of safety netting advice so that clinicians can consistently deliver the most effective advice for parents.
DOI Link: 10.1186/1471-2296-14-140
eISSN: 1471-2296
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2013 Jones et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, College of Medicine, Biological Sciences and Psychology

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