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Background Parents of children with eczema are increasingly turning to online parenting forums for advice about managing childhood eczema. Little is known about how parents make sense of advice about eczema treatments in online forums, and how it affects their management of childhood eczema. Aim The aim of this study was to explore how parents of children with eczema make sense of and act upon advice about eczema treatments exchanged in online parenting forums. Design & setting Qualitative interviews with parents of children with eczema from the United Kingdom. Method 15 parents were recruited through online advertisements and snowball sampling. Semi-structured interviews were carried out face-to-face or by telephone and analysed inductively using reflexive thematic analysis. Results When seeking advice from online parenting forums about eczema treatments, parents described appraising the credibility of advice and considering the potential suitability of treatments that were recommended in the forum. Parents proceeded to making sense of online advice through either reading advice and not engaging in online discussions, or actively engaging in online discussions to direct topics and seek most relevant advice. Parents discussed advice received online in subsequent consultations with their general practitioner and requested prescriptions of recommended treatments. Some parents described trying new treatments without consulting their general practitioner. Conclusion Understanding how parents appraise, make sense of and act upon online advice could support health care professionals to disseminate advice appropriately, ask additional questions and sign-post parents to reliable online resources.

More information Original publication



Journal article




BJGP Open 16 March 2023; BJGPO.2022.0155


Royal College of General Practitioners

Publication Date



Bethan Treadgold received an SPCR PhD studentship


Dermatology, child health, qualitative research