OBJECTIVES: Understand the role of health beliefs in shaping maternal decisions regarding help-seeking for children with developmental delay (DD) and explore differences between African American and Hispanic mothers. METHODS: Open-ended, semistructured interviews were conducted with African American and Hispanic mothers of children aged 0 to 36 months with DD. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed by using inductive content analysis. RESULTS: Mothers (n = 22) were African American (36%) or Hispanic (64%), 25 to 34 years old (64%), had less than a high school education (59%), and had children receiving public insurance (95%). Five major themes emerged describing the role of maternal health beliefs in shaping key stages of the help-seeking pathway for children with DD: (1) "I can see" (observing other children and making comparisons); (2) "Children are different and develop in their own time" (perceiving that their child might be different, but not necessarily delayed); (3) "It's not that I don't trust the doctor" (relying on social networks rather than pediatricians to inform the help-seeking pathway); (4) "I got so much going on" (difficulty prioritizing early intervention [EI] because of competing stressors); and (5) limited and conflicting information (delaying or forgoing EI because of limited or conflicting information). Differences between African American and Hispanic mothers are also described. CONCLUSIONS: Understanding maternal health beliefs and expectations regarding DD and EI, acknowledging the influence of social networks on help-seeking, and addressing social and financial stressors are critical to ensuring that children with DD are identified and supported at an early age.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health