General practitioner referrals to paediatric specialist outpatient clinics: Referral goals and parental influence

Marina Kunin, Erin Turbitt, Sarah Gafforini, Lena A Sanci, Neil A. Spike, Gary L. Freed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


INTRODUCTION: Previous research on general practitioner (GP) referrals in adult populations demonstrated that patient pressure influenced referral practice. No research has been conducted to investigate how involvement of a parent influences paediatric referrals.

AIM: To investigate whether GPs who report parental influence on their decision to refer paediatric patients differ in their referral patterns from GPs who do not report parental influence.

METHOD: A mail survey of 400 GPs who had referred at least two children to paediatric specialist outpatient clinics during 2014 was distributed.

RESULTS: The response rate was 67% (n = 254). For initial referrals, 27% of GPs stated that parental request frequently or almost always influenced their referral decision. For returning referrals, 63% of GPs experienced parental influence to renew a referral because a paediatrician wanted a child to return; 49% of GPs experienced influence to renew a referral because a parent wanted to continue care with a paediatrician. Experiencing parental influence was associated with increased likelihood for frequent referrals in order for a paediatrician to take over management of a child’s condition.

DISCUSSION: GPs who frequently refer with a goal for a paediatrician to take over management of a child’s condition also report that parental request almost always influences their decision to refer.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberHC17030
Pages (from-to)76-80
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Primary Health Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • primary care
  • secondary care
  • outpatients
  • child care
  • continuity of patient care
  • delivery of health care

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