This study aims to describe parental experiences and perspectives of caring for a child with otitis media. We conducted a systematic review of qualitative studies on parental perspectives on caring for a child with otitis media. We searched electronic databases to July 2015. Seventeen studies involving 284 participants from six countries were included. We identified seven themes: diminishing competency (guilt over failure to identify symptoms, helpless and despairing, fear of complications, disempowered and dismissed); disrupting life schedules (disturbing sleep, interfering with work, burden on family); social isolation (stigma and judgement, sick consciousness); threatening normal development (delaying growth milestones, impairing interpersonal skills, impeding education); taking ownership (recognising symptoms, diagnostic closure, working the system, protecting against physical trauma, contingency planning); valuing support (needing respite, depending on community, clinician validation); and cherishing health (relief with treatment success, inspiring resilience).
Conclusion: The additional medical responsibilities and anxieties of parents caring for a child with otitis media, often discounted by clinicians, can be disempowering and disruptive. Chronicity can raise doubt about treatment efficacy and parental competency, and fears regarding their child’s development. Care that fosters parental confidence and addresses their concerns about the child’s development may improve treatment outcomes for children with otitis media.
What is Known:
• Otitis media is a leading cause of conductive hearing loss in children.
• Parental perception of the treatment burden of otitis media can potentially affect their confidence and ability to care for their child.
What is New:
• We identified five themes to reflect parental perspectives: diminishing competency, disrupting life schedules, social isolation, threatening normal development, taking ownership, valuing support, and cherishing health.
• Parents may perceive caring for a child with otitis media as disempowering and disruptive and with reoccurrence doubt treatment efficacy and their parental competency and develop fears regarding their child’s development.
Patient perspective Qualitative research Paediatric practice Health service
SC contributed to the conception of the study, carried out the data collection and analysis, coding of data, and drafted the manuscript. CY contributed to data collection, data analysis, and revised the manuscript. HG and JCC contributed to the interpretation of the data, review, and revised the manuscript. AT conceptualised and designed the study, contributed to data analysis, drafted the initial manuscript, and approved the final manuscript as submitted.
Compliance with ethical standards
SC is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council Grant (ID1023998, ID1035378). AT is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowship (1106716). The study sponsor had no role in the study design, the collection, analysis, and interpretation of the data, the writing of the report, and the decision to submit the paper for publication.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.
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