ANN ARBOR, Mich. - Nearly half of parents say any qualified health care provider - not just a child's usual provider - can do a sports physical, according to a new University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health.
One quarter of the 434 parents surveyed in the poll took their child to an alternate location for the most recent sports physical, says Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H. , associate director of the National Poll on Children's Health and associate research scientist in the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics.
Sports physicals don't have to cover all health concerns if a child is seeing his or her regular provider for regular checkups. The vast majority (89 percent) of parents surveyed in this poll said sports physicals are not a substitute for regular care, However, national data show that adolescents have much lower rates of well-child visits compared with younger children, suggesting that parents may fail to follow through on getting the comprehensive checkups.
"For many parents, this may be a matter of convenience. The 'physical night' option at school might be easier than scheduling a visit with a regular healthcare provider that corresponds with sports season timing," says Clark.
"Parents differ in their views of sports physicals. One view is that sports physicals are a 'check the box' requirement for generally healthy kids, so they can be done by any health care provider, with convenience being a key factor," Clark says.
"Another view is that sports physicals should be very in-depth, even including diagnostic tests such as an EKG or echocardiogram to check for underlying heart conditions in kids without symptoms. But parents may not realize that most primary care offices may not have the technology for those types of tests."
The poll found that most parents rated measuring blood pressure (88 percent) and testing vision (73 percent) as "very important" to include in a sports physical. A lower - but still sizable percentage of parents rated it "very important" to give vaccines (64 percent), test for heart problems (63 percent) and provide brain scans for kids with prior concussions (47 percent) during a sports physical.
The poll also asked parents about what should be discussed during a sports physical. The largest percentage, 78 percent, said medical history, followed by concussions (68 percent), alcohol and other drugs (57 percent), nutrition (55 percent) and performance-enhancing drugs (51 percent).
"For some adolescents, sports physicals may be the only interaction with a health care provider over the course of a year," Clark says. "So failing to talk about nutrition or performance-enhancing drugs or any healthcare topic especially important to athletes or adolescents really could be a missed opportunity."
Clark says parents should make sure they understand what is and what isn't covered during a sports physical and make sure their child gets a more comprehensive checkup with a regular healthcare provider to fill in any gaps.
A pediatrician's view in our blog: http://uofmhealthblogs.
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Full report: C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health
Website: Check out the Poll's website: MottNPCH.org. You can search and browse over 90 NPCH Reports, suggest topics for future polls, share your opinion in a quick poll, and view information on popular topics. The National Poll on Children's Health team welcomes feedback on the website, including features you'd like to see added. To share feedback, e-mail NPCH@med.umich.edu.
KidsHealth.org: Sports Physicals
AAFP.org: The Preparticipation Athletic Evaluation
Purpose/Funding: The C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health - based at the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan and funded by the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and the University of Michigan Health System - is designed to measure major health care issues and trends for U.S. children.
Data Source: This report presents findings from a nationally representative household survey conducted exclusively by GfK Custom Research, LLC (GfK) for C.S. Mott Children's Hospital via a method used in many published studies. The survey was administered in March 2014 to a randomly selected, stratified group of adults age 18 and older from GfK's web-enabled KnowledgePanel® that closely resembles the U.S. population. Responses from parents with a child age 10-17 who plays school or competitive sports (n=434) were used for this report.
The sample was subsequently weighted to reflect population figures from the Census Bureau. The survey completion rate was 53 percent among panel members contacted to participate. The margin of error is ±3 to 6 percentage points.
Findings from the U-M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health do not represent the opinions of the investigators or the opinions of the University of Michigan.