The influence of perceived accessibility and expertise of healthcare professionals, and service austerity, on mothers' decision-making
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Helen Bosley, Jane V. Appleton, Catherine Henshall, Debra Jackson. The influence of perceived accessibility and expertise of healthcare professionals, and service austerity, on mothers' decision-making. Health Soc Care Community. 2020;00:1–9.
Mothers often make key decisions regarding their children's health. They hold core beliefs and attitudes towards healthcare providers, relying on healthcare services to provide sup-port, advice and reassurance. It is crucial that health providers form authentic relation-ships with families with young children, in order to effectively provide healthcare, support and information as needed. In this paper, we explore mothers' views on the accessibil-ity and expertise of healthcare professionals caring for their child's health. A case study, using a geographic post code as the case boundary was used. Focus groups and semi-structured interviews with mothers of children aged under five years old were conducted. Participants (n= 33) were recruited from local playgroups and six focus groups (19 par-ticipants) and 14 individual interviews were conducted. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis. General Practice (including general practitioners [GPs] and prac-tice nurses) was considered to be the preferred option when seeking timely healthcare advice and information. Participant mothers were open to accessing professional advice concerning their child's health, from a range of health professionals and understood the role and potential contribution of various health professionals. However, some factors, influenced mothers' decision-making. These were captured in three themes: maternal perceptions of GPs as accessible experts; practice nurses as approachable and reassuring sources of advice; and difficulty in accessing health visiting services primarily due to ser-vice funding cuts. Further investment in primary care services, including expansion of the practice nurse role and an increase in health visiting service provision, may help to provide sufficient support for mothers seeking healthcare advice. In addition, healthcare service strategies, which engage with mothers and ensure nurses are recognised as knowledge-able, accessible, supportive and a suitable alternative to GPs, would be beneficial