• Primary care;
  • rural;
  • parenting;
  • upper respiratory infection (URI)



To explore rural parents’ behaviors and expectations regarding acute respiratory infections (ARIs) in children.

Data sources

A random digit dial telephone survey administered to 655 rural adults; 176 answered questions regarding care of their children.


Increasing fluid intake was the action most parents reported “always” taking when caring for a child with an ARI. Parents take their child to see a provider when they “just know” their child will not get better or when the child has discolored phlegm or discharge. Most reported reasons for not taking child to a provider were because the child got better on their own and they knew how to treat their child on their own. When seeing a provider for an ARI, parents considered it very important that the provider listen to the child's symptoms, examine their child for the cause of their symptoms, and provide symptom management advice. Parents expect providers to treat the ARI in one visit and allow for follow-up by phone or e-mail.

Implications for practice

Nurse practitioners (NPs) in rural communities should be aware of the behaviors and expectations of parents in their practice. Awareness of these potentially unique issues will allow NPs to work with rural patients more effectively.