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RECENT TRENDS AND ATTITUDES AMONG PARENTS/PRIMARY CAREGIVERS AND PHYSICIANS TOWARD THE USE OF EXERSAUCERS

Hagen, Katherine A.3; Lundeen, Heather M.2; Speich, Susan A.3; Mabey, Renee1; Mohr, Peg1

Pediatric Physical Therapy: April 2006 - Volume 18 - Issue 1 - p 92-93
Abstracts: Abstracts of Platform and Poster Presentations for the 2006 Combined Sections Meeting: Poster Presentations

1Physical Therapy, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, USA (Mabey, Mohr)

2Pediatric Therapies, Medcenter One, Bismarck, ND, USA (Lundeen)

3Special Education, Moorhead Public Schools, Moorhead, MN, USA (Hagen, Speich)

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Purpose/Hypothesis:

Exersaucers are widely used for infants and recommended over walkers due to increased safety. Research indicated that equipment use might affect development. No information exists regarding parents' and physicians' perspectives about exersaucer use. The purpose of this study was: 1) to investigate the attitudes of caregivers and physicians regarding exersaucer use and rationale for use, and 2) to determine the target audience for education regarding the use of exersaucers.

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Number of Subjects:

Fifty-seven caregivers of children 6–24 months, 67 family physicians (n = 40) and pediatricians (n = 27) participated in the study.

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Materials/Methods:

A total of 130 caregivers and 239 physicians were recruited to complete a survey regarding exersaucers. Caregiver surveys addressed demographics, exersaucer use and rationale, and informational sources regarding infant growth and development. Physician surveys investigated recommendations, understanding of developmental implications, and perspectives on caregivers' rationale for exersaucer use.

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Results:

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of caregiver respondents used exersaucers at home, 64% at daycare, and 56% at home and at daycare. The mean age of exersaucer use was 4.5 months to 9.5 months. Mean frequency and duration of exersaucer use was similar across locations, 2 times daily, 15–16 minutes each time. Respondents reported using an exersaucer for entertainment, developmental benefit, convenience, and safety. Physicians were listed as one of three choices for seeking information on growth and development of their infants by 82% of caregivers. Nineteen percent (19%) of physician respondents made recommendations, 7% were neutral, and 73% indicated they did not make recommendations for exersaucer use; 25% of these indicating unfamiliarity with exersaucers. Physicians reported receiving knowledge regarding exersaucers from peers (15%) and journals (15%). No information on exersaucers had been received by 49% of physicians.

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Conclusions:

A majority of caregivers used exersaucers and listed physicians as their primary source of information on growth/development of their infants. Some physicians were unaware of exersaucers and/or potential negative implications on development; a small percentage offered parents advice on appropriate use.

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Clinical Relevance:

While 77% of caregivers surveyed utilized exersaucers, research has indicated exersaucer use may negatively affect development. Physicians serving as informational resources may be unfamiliar with the implications of exersaucer use and offer limited recommendations regarding appropriate use of this equipment. The authors conclude that parent and physician education that offers information and alternative methods to achieve child safety/entertainment and parental convenience would be beneficial in addressing these factors. Mechanisms for such education may include an informational website, in-services, and written handouts for physicians, parent groups, daycare staff, and early intervention staff.

Keywords:

exersaucers; infant equipment prescription; infant motor development

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.