Private well water testing promotion in pediatric preventive care: A randomized intervention study

Elsevier, Preventive Medicine Reports, Volume 20, 2020, 101209, ISSN 2211-3355
Carolyn J. Murray, Ardis L. Olson, Ellen L. Palmer, Qian Yang, Christopher I. Amos, Deborah J. Johnson, Margaret R. Karagas,

Over 43 million U.S. residents rely on private unregulated wells for their drinking water, raising public health concerns, particularly in regions like northern New England where widespread groundwater arsenic contamination is now recognized. Children are particularly vulnerable to adverse health effects from arsenic exposure. Despite AAP Guidelines, approaches to engage pediatric clinicians in promoting private well testing have not been previously described. We sought to determine the most effective practice approaches to achieve successful well water testing in routine pediatric care. 12 primary care clinics were block randomized to one of four study arms. Two intervention variables were assessed: (1) test results access (parent only vs. parent and clinic) and (2) follow up approaches (yes/no). Parents of children under 12 months using a private well were eligible. Prepaid water tests were provided. Primary outcome was parental water test completion. Eleven clinics successfully implemented processes identifying well users. 240 testing kits were dispensed. Completion rates averaged 29% (range 10 to 61%). The study arm with both clinic results access and staff follow up system was 2.3 times more likely to achieve test completion than other arms (95% CI 1.12–4.86, p = .03). Kit distribution by clinicians versus nursing staff, irrespective of study arm, had 2.4 times greater completion (95% CI 1.13–5.11, p = .02). Systematic drinking water source screening can be improved in pediatric care. Higher testing completion was found in practices randomized to reminders and structured follow up versus single visit discussion, but clinician involvement was the most predictive factor.