How to Get a Parent to Follow Through on Clinical Recommendations?

This may be a question you have asked yourself about clients you’ve worked with in your practice.

Sometimes parents can be reluctant to follow recommendations made by a service provider whether that be a physician, a teacher, therapist, or a behavior analyst.

It is important to respect a parent’s rights to make decisions for their child and to choose which recommendations they would like to follow and which ones they do not wish to adopt.

However, there are a few things that the professional service provider can keep in mind if a parent is hesitant to follow their recommendations.

Tips for Increasing Parent Follow-Through on Clinical Recommendations

First, try to assess why the parent is reluctant to follow the recommendation.

Has the parent heard something unpleasant about the recommendation? If so, can you ease their mind about it by giving reassuring information or clarifying any myths that may exist?

On a similar note, you can give parents more information and even provide them with other credible sources that support your recommendations.

Sometimes, educating parents and helping them to better understand the recommendation helps them feel more comfortable about it.

Understand the parent’s cultural background. Is there a cultural factor involved in why they do not wish to follow through on your recommendation?

Provide parents with an easy to understand explanation of the risks and benefits of adhering to your recommendations.

When parents know better about what is possible if they follow through on a recommendation, they may be more likely to follow it.

On the other hand, when parents know better of the potential negative outcomes of not following a recommendation, they may be more likely to follow it.

You don’t want to use fear as a tactic to get parents to follow through on recommendations but understanding the risks and benefits can be beneficial.

Look for potential barriers for the parent in why they may not want to follow a recommendation.

Do they have all the necessary resources? Are they stretched thin with the level of energy they expend in any given day and have little left to give to your recommendation? Do they have the social supports available to help them make a change involved in your recommendation?

Increasing Parent-Follow Through on Clinical Recommendations

So, how do you get a parent to follow through on recommendations that you make to them?

First, be sure to respect a parent’s right to choose what recommendations they’d like to follow through on and which ones they’d prefer not to. Understand that parents do not need to follow through on all of your recommendations and that is totally okay.

If you do feel that you should press a little more at getting parents to buy into a certain recommendation, use some of the tips listed in this article, such as:

  • Assessing why the parent is reluctant to follow the recommendation
  • Provide the parent with educational information
  • Consider cultural background
  • Explain the risks and benefits
  • Look for barriers