Skip links and keyboard navigation

Parents taking unnecessary risk with unreliable online info

More Queensland parents are turning to unreliable websites rather than a reputable source for health advice.

The Australian Child Health Poll released data recently which showed similar results to a Queensland survey of parents, with children aged zero to six years old, who were asked where they were most likely to turn for trusted health information.

13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) Child Health Nurse Unit Manager Andrea Densley said research showed that of the 200 parents surveyed, 71 per cent said the internet was the first place they went for health advice.

"The internet is at our fingertips 24 hours a day and it's no surprise parents look there for advice," Ms Densley said.

"Trusting your child's health to unqualified, ambiguous and often incorrect advice online is like going into the wilderness without a map. It's so easy to take a wrong turn and become lost in the sea of information.

"And this is why it's so important parents are educated on the best places to look online and who to speak with if they need more information," Ms Densley said.

"Over time we've seen a generational shift with parents becoming tech savvy and we know they're eager to know more on everything from toddler behaviour and child development to immunisations, skin infections, fever and more.  

Ms Densley said using a trusted online resource like the Queensland Health website was a great place to start if online research was a person's preference.

"Parents should look for credible and reliable websites rather than an organisation they’ve never heard of or an online forum," she said.

"Trawling random health websites can lead to confusion and sometimes, parents may think their child is sicker than what they actually are and this can cause anxiety.

"And more often than not, this can lead to an avoidable trip to the emergency department."

Other sources of child health information included:

  • General Practitioner - 65 per cent
  • 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) - 37 per cent
  • Family members / friends - 47 per cent
  • Child health clinics / mid wife visits - 35 per cent
  • Red Book - 30 per cent
  • Baby / child health books - 25 per cent
  • Facebook or other social media - 21 per cent
  • Bounty bag - 17 per cent
  • A specific parenting of children's website - seven per cent
  • Somewhere else - six per cent.

Ms Densley said of course parents could also call 13 HEALTH's (13 43 25 84) specialised child health information and advice service.

When asked, 92 per cent of people who had recently phoned the 13 HEALTH child health information and advice service reported a high level of satisfaction with their encounter.

"Our service is available at any time of the day or night and we’re always happy to help. In fact, just last year our child health service alone helped out more than 20,600 families.

"As a provider of healthcare advice, it's our job to provide parents with reassuring advice and also make sure they are getting the right information from the right place when they need it most.

"We can provide assessment of symptoms to provide advice about the urgency for medical attention. And we can also provide advice that supports and educates families to understand childhood development questions and concerns.

"If you think something is not right with your child or you just want to ask a question that has been playing on your mind, give us a call.

"No matter how minor or major you think your concern might be, the team at 13 HEALTH are just one reassuring call away."

For more information on 13 HEALTH visit the Queensland Health website.
Last updated: 4 July 2016