June 1995

Parents' Knowledge of the Purposes and Content of Preparticipation Physical Examinations

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Drs D. P. Krowchuk and Rainey) and Orthopedics (Drs Hunter, Martin, and Curl), Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC; the School of Nursing, University of North Carolina, Greensboro (Dr H. V. Krowchuk); and the Department of Pediatrics, University of Indiana School of Medicine, Indianapolis (Dr Zimet).

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(6):653-657. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170190063011

Objectives:  To determine whether parents of student athletes plan to use the preparticipation physical examination (PPE) as their student athlete's only annual health evaluation, to identify factors associated with this decision, and to assess their knowledge about the objectives of PPEs and more comprehensive examinations.

Design:  Survey.

Setting:  General community, school-sponsored PPEs.

Participants:  A convenience sample of parents or guardians of high school student athletes who obtained a schoolsponsored, multiple-station format PPE were surveyed by using an anonymous paper-and-pencil questionnaire. Questionnaires were completed by the parents of 381 of 763 student athletes who obtained PPEs (participation rate, 49.9%).

Results:  Thirty percent of the parents in this sample planned to use the PPE as their student athlete's only contact with a health care provider. Parents whose adolescent's health insurance provided for comprehensive health assessments were more likely than those without this benefit to plan a comprehensive care evaluation (75% vs 60%, respectively) (P=.01 by χ2 analysis). In addition to addressing problems that might affect sports participation, parents thought that the PPE visit should evaluate medical problems that are unrelated to athletics (34%), perform health screening procedures (22%), assess social or behavioral issues (16%), and provide immunizations (7%).

Conclusions:  Many parents plan to use the PPE as their student athlete's only scheduled contact with a health care provider; this decision may be influenced by factors that are related to access to health care and misperceptions with regard to the mission of these specialized examinations. For these adolescents, important medical, social, and behavioral needs may not be met. Consideration should be given to including elements of the PPE in health assessments that are performed by individual clinicians or expanding the scope of large-group, multiple-station format PPEs.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:653-657)