Pediatric Sleep Education in Primary Care: Parental Receipt, Compliance and Children’s Sleep Problems
Mullarkey, Jenna Patricia
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Sleep is important for children, as inadequate sleep can result in a number of poor outcomes in terms of cognitive, psychosocial, and somatic functioning. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has recommended that all pediatric providers educate parents about the necessary sleep duration for optimal functioning and healthy sleep hygiene practices for their children. The present study sought to examine the proportion of parents who receive pediatric sleep education from their child’s providers, the rates of compliance with these recommendations, and the effects that receiving this information has on frequency and severity of the child’s sleep problems. This cross-sectional study was conducted via an online pediatric sleep survey completed by parents of children between the ages of three and 12. A total of 305 parent participants were enrolled in the study. Of the parents who chose to provide their child’s demographic information, the mean age of children in the sample was 6.33 years (SD= 2.643; range= 3-12 years) and the gender distribution was 50.2% male (n=157) and 47.3% female (n=148). Only 28.8% (n=90) of parents reported that sleep was discussed at their child’s most recent visit to a medical provider. The results also indicated that only 6.7% (n=21) of parents were fully compliant with the all of the AAP’s recommendations for sleep duration and sleep hygiene. When examining compliance with sleep duration recommendations, a significant effect was found for severity of sleep problems, F(1, 286)= 10.554, p=.001, eta squared= 0.04, with children who were not sleeping the recommended number of hours experiencing significantly more sleep problems. These results reveal that a significant percentage of parents do not receive sleep education from their pediatric providers, which can lead to increased severity of sleep problems in children. Findings from this study will be used to inform provider-delivered interventions for parents and families to promote healthy pediatric sleep.