Vestergren, SK, Ghio, D, Muller, I, Mandangu, C, Dennison, L, Sykes, K, Boyle, R and Santer, M (2022) Parents’ concerns and understandings around excessive infant crying: qualitative study of discussions in online forums. SSM - Qualitative Research in Health, 2 (100146). ISSN 2667-3215

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Crying is an essential behaviour in infants, occurring on a continuum, and only rarely indicates serious underlying diagnosis. Searching online for information about excessive crying has become common, using the internet to seek health information and support through forums. The aim of this study was to examine data systematically derived from discussion threads on two online parent forums to explore discussions around excessive infant crying. This study utilised two qualitative approaches; the first, a thematic analysis to explore concerns around excessive crying, and the second, discursive psychology, to explore how diagnostic labels (underlying medical cause of crying) are negotiated within an online thread. The thematic analysis identified a tension between interpreting what is ‘normal’ crying and when crying is a sign of an ‘underlying problem’ leading to a search for a diagnostic label. This tension seemed to be heightened when expectations that infancy should be a ‘happy time’ were threatened by excessive crying. Responses to original posts offered support for parents/caregivers to 'trust their instincts' and to explore different diagnostic labels. The discursive psychology analysis explored responders' accounts of their experiences to increase credibility and showcase expertise. Forums play an important social role, meeting needs for reassurance, validation, and empowerment. This study suggests that labels are used interchangeably, and further work is needed to understand how perceptions are developed and acted on in the community, as well as online. Furthermore, this study suggests there is a need for supporting parents/caregivers in understanding and managing common behaviours such as excessive crying.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2022 13:44
Last Modified: 13 Apr 2023 08:31

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