Professional telephone advice to parents with sick children: Time for quality control

Andrews, Jacqueline K., Armstrong, Kenneth L., & Fraser, Jennifer A. (2002) Professional telephone advice to parents with sick children: Time for quality control. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 38(1), pp. 23-26.

PDF (42kB)


Objective: To assess the quality of professional telephone advice given to parents with sick children. Methods: All hospitals with an emergency department and a paediatric ward and a designated child health telephone advice line in the greater Brisbane region were invited to participate in the study. Case scenarios involving a febrile baby, a 14-month-old with gastroenteritis and an 18-month-old with a head injury were used three times with each institution. Each of the cases should have elicited a response indicating the need for urgent medical attention. A research assistant presented the symptoms in accordance with the questions of the telephone advice-giver. Aspects of the call were recorded, including time between call made and access to advice-giver, profession of advice-giver, identifying details sought by advice-giver, questions asked about the case presented, length of call, and advice-given. Results: Of the 10 hospitals asked, six agreed to participate. Included in the study were two paediatric hospitals, two general public hospitals, one private hospital, and a Statewide-designated child health telephone advice line. Calls were generally attended to promptly. Only 37 (68.5%) of the advisers recognized the urgency of the case scenarios, with the febrile infant having the least likelihood of eliciting the correct advice (39%). Doctors gave more reliable advice than nurses in the fever scenario, but not in the other cases. Conclusions: Telephone advice to parents with sick children is easily accessible, but is often dangerously inappropriate. There is a need for tighter quality control and/or for a centralised telephone advice line to prevent inappropriate advice being given to parents.

Impact and interest:

11 citations in Scopus
10 citations in Web of Science®
Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

362 since deposited on 26 Jul 2007
6 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 8801
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: For more information, please refer to the journal's website (see hypertext link) or contact the author.
Author contact details:
Additional URLs:
ISSN: 1034-4810
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700) > Community Child Health (111704)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Health Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2002 The Authors; Journal compilation Copyright 2002 Paediatrics and Child Health Division (Royal Australasian College of Physicians)
Deposited On: 26 Jul 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:43

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page