Novel instrument to guide nurse-led consultations with parents of three-year-olds in school health services in Flanders: A feasibility study of SPARK36

Published:December 20, 2021DOI:


      • Nurses can perform an interview with parents of 3-year-olds to assess risks in child development and parenting problems.
      • SPARK36 is a broad-scope structured interview that guides nurses' assessment.
      • SPARK36 uses a collaborative approach with parents which strengthens them in their parental task.
      • Nurses feel empowered in their task by using SPARK36.



      In the framework of new legislation on School Health Services (SHS) in Flanders (Belgium), nurses lead a preventive consultation with every three-year-old child and its parent(s), with the aim of assessing risks in child development and potential parenting problems. This study assesses the feasibility of the “Structured Problem Analysis of Raising kids aged 36 months” (SPARK36), a broad-scope structured interview to facilitate such consultations.

      Design and methods

      A feasibility study was conducted with SHS nurses across Flanders, to determine need for this instrument, acceptability and practical feasibility of SPARK36 with both parents and professionals. Nurses were trained to use the instrument. Mixed methods (i.e., questionnaires for both parents and nurses, and a focus group interview with nurses) were used to evaluate the feasibility of using SPARK36.


      Parents were satisfied (97.0%) with what was discussed during the consultation and with the consultation's structure (98.8%). After the training, all 20 nurses felt strengthened in performing the consultation and in making a risk assessment. The interview was feasible in 20–30 min. During 561 interviews nurses gave parenting support in 88.2% of cases.


      SPARK36 is acceptable, practically feasible for parents and nurses, and it meets needs of both parties. The instrument supports nurses during their consultation. More research is needed to evaluate the instrument and to prepare its implementation in daily practice.

      Practice implications

      SPARK36 is a promising instrument for nurse-led consultations in the SHS setting.


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