Parental views on otitis media: systematic review of qualitative studies

Shingisai Chando, Christian Young, Jonathan Craig, Hasantha Gunasekera, Allison Tong

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


This study aims to describe parental experiences and perspectives of caring for a child with otitis media. We conducted a systematic review of qualitative studies on parental perspectives on caring for a child with otitis media. We searched electronic databases to July 2015. Seventeen studies involving 284 participants from six countries were included. We identified seven themes: diminishing competency (guilt over failure to identify symptoms, helpless and despairing, fear of complications, disempowered and dismissed); disrupting life schedules (disturbing sleep, interfering with work, burden on family); social isolation (stigma and judgement, sick consciousness); threatening normal development (delaying growth milestones, impairing interpersonal skills, impeding education); taking ownership (recognising symptoms, diagnostic closure, working the system, protecting against physical trauma, contingency planning); valuing support (needing respite, depending on community, clinician validation); and cherishing health (relief with treatment success, inspiring resilience). Conclusion: The additional medical responsibilities and anxieties of parents caring for a child with otitis media, often discounted by clinicians, can be disempowering and disruptive. Chronicity can raise doubt about treatment efficacy and parental competency, and fears regarding their child’s development. Care that fosters parental confidence and addresses their concerns about the child’s development may improve treatment outcomes for children with otitis media.What is Known:• Otitis media is a leading cause of conductive hearing loss in children.• Parental perception of the treatment burden of otitis media can potentially affect their confidence and ability to care for their child.What is New:• We identified five themes to reflect parental perspectives: diminishing competency, disrupting life schedules, social isolation, threatening normal development, taking ownership, valuing support, and cherishing health.• Parents may perceive caring for a child with otitis media as disempowering and disruptive and with reoccurrence doubt treatment efficacy and their parental competency and develop fears regarding their child’s development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1305
Number of pages11
Issue number10
Early online date10 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Health service
  • Paediatric practice
  • Patient perspective
  • Qualitative research


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