OHSU

Health Care, Home, School Differ for Children With Special Health Care Needs

12/05/11  Portland, Ore.

New report is the first to compare health and well-being of children with special health care needs to children without

The first federally funded report to compare children with special health care needs to children without reveals 14 percent to 19 percent of children in the United States have a special health care need and their insurance is inadequate to cover the greater scope of care they require for optimal health.

The report, Children with Special Health Care Needs in Context: A Portrait of States and the Nation 2007, provides an enhanced view of children by illustrating their health, health care, home and family environments, and school and neighborhood environments compared with their peers without special health care needs. It is based on findings from the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

In the survey, children with special health care needs are defined as those who have one or more chronic physical, developmental, behavioral, or emotional conditions for which they require a type or amount of health and related services that is above routine-level care.

The key findings in the report demonstrate critical differences between these groups. While more than 88 percent of children ages 0 to 17 with special health care needs have consistent health insurance coverage, it is less likely to meet their greater health care needs compared to children without special health care needs. The percentage of children with special health care needs who have inadequate health insurance ranges from 20 percent to 38 percent across states.

“The NSCH is a valuable information source that can be used to inform efforts to advance the health of our nation’s children. It allows us to measure children’s health, well-being and health care system performance in the context of their family, home, community and school environments — and to compare across many subgroups of children within and across states,” said Christina Bethell, Ph.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) and a professor of pediatrics in the Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine, OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.  

“This information is important to identify priorities and opportunities for improving children’s health and health care in the United States. The CAHMI Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health is committed to making this information readily available to the public on our user friendly Web site,” said Bethell.

Additional key survey findings include:

  • Children with special health care needs are more likely to be overweight or obese compared to children without special health care needs. 
  • Children with special health care needs are less likely to be engaged in school and are more likely to have repeated one or more grades compared to their peers without special health care needs.
  • Just over one-third (36 percent) of children with special health care needs meet criteria minimum threshold for receiving quality care, which is characterized by having a medical home, adequate health insurance and having at least one preventive visit in the past year.
  • Only 23 percent of children with special health care needs live in protective home environments compared to 30 percent of children without special health care needs. A protective home environment includes factors such as eating meals together, limited television watching and whether or not a child is exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke in the home.
  • Children with and without special health care needs are similarly likely to live in safe and supportive neighborhoods.

Interactive data from this report can be easily accessed through the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health website. The Data Resource Center is a project of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) housed at OHSU.

More information about the report is available online

The 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health involved a total of 91,642 interviews, about 1800 interviews in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with parents of children less than 18 years old.

About the Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health 

The Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health is a project of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) housed at Oregon Health & Science University (www.cahmi.org). It is supported through a cooperative agreement with the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Dept of Health & Human Services (1-U59-MC06980-01) and periodically enjoys support from other entities for project-specific work.

About Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university and its only academic health center. As Portland's largest employer, OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. OHSU serves patients from every corner of the state and is a conduit for learning for more than 4,300 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to each county in the state.

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Tamara Hargens-Bradley
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