July 31, 2013
Convenience Factor Draws Parents to Retail Clinics
Instead of Pediatricians

St. Louis, MO—Convenience is what influences parents to bring their ill children to retail clinics (RCs), even if they have established relationships with a pediatrician.

That’s according to a new study published by JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said they conducted the study because little data exists on the pediatric use of the clinics, usually located in drugstores and staffed by nonpediatric nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The in-store clinics usually care for patients 18 months and older with minor illnesses such as ear and throat infections.

The study was based on a survey completed by 1,484 parents—a 91.9% response rate—using 19 pediatric practices in the Midwest. According to survey results, 344 parents, 23.2%, had used RCs for their children, with 74% reporting that they had first considered going to their pediatrician. They said they instead chose an RC because:

• The retail clinic had more convenient hours, 36.6%;
• No office appointment was available at the pediatrician’s office, 25.2%;
• They did not want to bother their pediatrician after hours,15.4%, or;
• They thought the problem was not serious enough for a pediatrician visit, 13%.

The most common reasons reported for the RC visits were acute upper respiratory tract illnesses, including sore throat (34.3%); ear infection (26.2%); and colds or flu (19.2%).

“Many parents with established relationships with a pediatrician use [RCs] for themselves and for their children, with some repeatedly choosing the RC instead of an office visit. These parents believe RCs provide better access to timely care at hours convenient to the family’s schedule,” the study concludes.

Study authors also suggest that pediatricians work to “to optimize communication with the RCs themselves, as well as with their patients regarding appropriate management of acute minor illnesses and the role of RCs. They also will need to directly address parents’ need for convenient access to care.”

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect