Australian parents’ use of universal child and family health services: A consumer survey

Chris Rossiter, Cathrine Fowler, Amiee Hesson, Sue Kruske, Caroline S.E. Homer, Virginia Schmied

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to explore Australian parents’ use of universally available well-child health services. It used an online survey of 719 parents of children aged from birth to 5 years in all states and territories to examine patterns of service use and consumer preferences. In Australia, several health professional groups provide advice to pregnant women, infants, children, and parents, offering health promotion, developmental screening, parenting support, and referral to specialist health services if required. The survey examined parents’ use of different child and family health providers, and their preferences for support with several common parenting issues. The study indicated that families with young children obtain primary healthcare from a range of service providers, often more than one, depending on children's ages and needs. Parents frequently visit general practitioners for immunisation and medical concerns. They attend dedicated child and family health nurses for parenting advice and well-child checks and prefer them as an information source for many health issues. However, a substantial proportion of parents (44.1%) do not currently visit a child and family health nurse, often because they not only do not perceive a need but also sometimes because these services are unknown, inaccessible, or considered unsuitable. They may seek advice from less qualified sources. There is potential for increased collaboration between child and family health providers to ensure effective resource use and consistency of parenting information and advice. Nursing services may need to address accessibility and appropriateness of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-482
Number of pages11
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


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