ABSTRACT INTRODUCTION Previous research on general practitioner (GP) referrals in adult populations demonstrated that patient pressure influenced referral practice. No research has been conducted to investigate how involvement of a parent influences paediatric referrals. AIM To investigate whether GPs who report parental influence on their decision to refer paediatric patients differ in their referral patterns from GPs who do not report parental influence. METHOD A mail survey of 400 GPs who had referred at least two children to paediatric specialist outpatient clinics during 2014 was distributed. RESULTS The response rate was 67% (n = 254). For initial referrals, 27% of GPs stated that parental request frequently or almost always influenced their referral decision. For returning referrals, 63% of GPs experienced parental influence to renew a referral because a paediatrician wanted a child to return; 49% of GPs experienced influence to renew a referral because a parent wanted to continue care with a paediatrician. Experiencing parental influence was associated with increased likelihood for frequent referrals in order for a paediatrician to take over management of a child’s condition. DISCUSSION GPs who frequently refer with a goal for a paediatrician to take over management of a child’s condition also report that parental request almost always influences their decision to refer.