OBJECTIVE: To provide insight into parents' awareness of and knowledge about urinary tract infections (UTIs) in young children.
METHODS: Twenty interviews with parents who had a child recently diagnosed with a UTI were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and qualitatively analysed.
RESULTS: Most parents knew the typical symptoms related to UTI. But, according to the parents, neither they nor all general practitioners (GPs) thought of a UTI in case of atypical symptoms. The awareness that UTI can be a serious illness usually came to parents later, partly because health care workers often did not explicitly mention this. According to the parents, health care workers should be more aware of UTIs in children. Parents felt that health education or mass screening might not be desirable because it would increase anxiety or would be perceived as not relevant.
CONCLUSION: Parents could not consistently recognise UTI in their children and were most times unaware of the possible consequences of a UTI. Nevertheless, parents were sceptical about health education and mass screening.
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: There seems little scope for health education addressed at parents or screening for UTI in young children. Instead, physicians and nurses should be alert for the possibility of UTIs in young children, and more information should be given once a UTI is diagnosed.