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Health and parenting information

Meeting the needs of all parents

Published: March 2010


To explore some of the key concepts involved from the viewpoint of professional staff in organisations supporting parents-to-be and parents of children up to the age of 8 years. Primarily, it focused on information for supporting child health and parenting, without the exclusion of other relevant areas e.g. poverty, housing and parental life circumstances. Practice examples were drawn from Highland, Edinburgh and Glasgow.


The concept ‘information support need’ was neither defined by the literature nor used by professionals. The meeting of ‘information support needs’ of all parents requires linking a chain of elements: parents, resource, purpose, mode of delivery, knowledge and behaviour change; context, form of support, and evidence.

Parent information needs and support

Parents required information across a wide range of areas, on an ad-hoc, one-off or continuing basis. Many groups of parents faced barriers to information support such as: lack of services, poor signposting and fears of stigma. Parents who struggled to access or understand information may need particularly high levels of personal support. Many parents rely on a narrow range of family and professionals for support and many are unaware of, or simply would not seek, other sources of support.

With reference to specific groups

  • Information support for black and ethnic minority (BME) groups is not simply a matter of translation, but needs to be embedded in an inclusive approach to service design and delivery.
  • Young parents wanted information that addressed them as young people as well as parents.
  • The needs of fathers remained unmet, and much more attention is required to source and promote the use of ‘father-friendly’ materials.

In the course of conducting this research, a map of the territory of ‘information support needs’ of parents has been established. However, further exploration and development is required at both a national and local level to refine the map and identify the way forward.


  • A review of both ‘grey’ and published literature on approaches to information support for parents.
  • Primary data collection with professionals working with parents: interviews with key informants with a national/strategic role, and mini-workshops and interviews with front-line practitioners. 

Read the report