Postnatal screening and care for non-medical risk factors by preventive child healthcare in deprived and non-deprived neighbourhoods
BMC Health Services Research , Volume 18 - Issue 1
Background: Children born in families with non-medical risk factors, such as deprivation, have higher odds of preterm birth (< 37 weeks of gestation) or being born small for gestational age (birth weight < 10th percentile). In addition, growing up they are at risk for growth and developmental problems. Preventive Child Healthcare (PCHC) monitors growth and development of babies and children. Early identification of children at risk could result in early interventions to prevent growth and developmental problems in later life. Therefore, we aimed to assess current practices in postnatal risk screening and care for non-medical risk factors and the collaboration with other healthcare professionals, in both deprived and non-deprived neighbourhoods in the Netherlands. Methods: Eight out of ten invited PCHC organisations, from different areas in the Netherlands, consented to participate in this study. A questionnaire was designed and digitally distributed to professionals working at these organisations, where 370 physicians and nurses were employed. Data was collected between June and September 2016. Descriptive statistics, chi square tests and t-tests were applied. Results: Eighty-nine questionnaires were eligible for analyses. Twenty percent of the respondents were working in a deprived neighbourhood and 70.8% of the respondents were employed as nurse. Most of them performed screening for non-medical risk factors in at least 50% of their consultations. PCHC professionals working in deprived neighbourhoods encountered significantly more often families with non-medical risk factors and experienced significantly more communication problems than their colleagues working in non-deprived neighbourhoods. 48.2% of the respondents were satisfied with the current form of postnatal risk screening in their organisation, whereas 41.2% felt a need for a structured postnatal risk assessment. Intensified collaboration is preferred with district-teams, general practitioners and midwifes, concerning clients with non-medical risk factors. Conclusion: This study shows that postnatal screening for non-medical risk factors is part of current PCHC practice, regardless the neighbourhood status they are deployed. PCHC professionals consider screening for non-medical risk factors as their responsibility. Consequently, they felt a need for a structured postnatal risk assessment and for an intensified collaboration with other healthcare professionals.